But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for the Lord’s people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God… For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:3–5, 8–10)
Leo Tolstoy posed an age-old question in his 1886 short story: “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” His protagonist is bitten by the land bug; once he completes one purchase, he seeks out the next deal. Then one day he is given a chance to stake out as much land as he can cover by foot, as long as he returns to the starting point by sundown. He greedily runs farther and farther, only turning back when he realizes the sun is setting. He makes it back to the starting point just in time, but drops dead from exhaustion. How much land does a man need? Just six feet for a grave.
Paul knows that greed, when left unchecked, can grow and flourish like a weed. He wants to stamp out even a hint of it, along with other sins such as sexual immorality and obscenity. Sexual sin was rife in biblical times, including prostitution, sexual misuse of slaves, and promiscuity. Our culture, too, remains sex-craved and sex-saturated. We are not immune; impurity can enter our minds and bodies like a worm, growing ever stronger as it feeds on our fleshly desires.
No longer can we dwell in that darkness; now we are actually light in the Lord. Light dispels the darkness, so as we live before, in, and through Christ, we will glow in his holy light. And we will bear the fruit Paul mentions, namely goodness, righteousness, and truth.
May we be content with his riches, not desiring more than he has chosen to bequeath to us.
Prayer: Lord, give me peace in your presence, and help me to be content.