Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
In Luke 12:15 a man told Jesus to tell his brother to divide up their inheritance, seeing what was really going on Jesus called him out for coveting: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” It is here that we see Jesus confronting the covetous heart and clearly contradicting the values of our coveting consumer culture. When we have a covetous character, no matter what we have, it is never enough. Our stuff will not satisfy, our relationships will never result in being good enough. We will always be left want something that we don’t have. Here in America we have amassed more materially, we much of the world’s wealth and it has not made us more contented, only more covetous. Peace is not found in a covetous heart but a:
- CONTENTED HEART
The key becomes learning how to be content in a coveting culture without giving in to the destructive desire for more. Paul learned and teaches us that contentment is not found in our circumstance but in Christ: Philippians 4:11-13 “11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” So how do we learn contentment in a culture that constantly demands bigger and better, more and more? First realize that contentment comes from resting in Christ’s provision not constant consuming, Philippians 4:19 says: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” When we rely on self instead of the Savior we fall into the trap of continual trying. Rest in Christ and then resist the urge to compare yourself to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” We compare careers, clothes, cars, just about anything and everything. Why do we compare, because that’s the way our society keeps score. We count points by possessions, but your possessions have nothing to do with your significance or importance. You can have all the possessions and amass all the points and still live a pointless life. You can be a millionaire and be a miser or you can be poor and live a purposeful life. It’s not about what you have, we need to learn to admire without having to acquire. Next Rejoice in what you do have, Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “If God gives a man wealth and property he should be grateful and enjoy what he has. It is a gift from God” If we are not careful we can fall into the trap of “When and Then” thinking: When I get married, then I’ll be happy or when I get divorced, then I’ll be happy. When we have kids, then we’ll be happy or when I get another job, then I’ll be happy. We need to remember that happiness is not getting whatever you want it’s enjoying whatever you have. 2 Timothy 6 reminds us that God has richly given us everything for our enjoyment. The problem is that many of us are so busy buying into the belief that we have to have more that we never enjoy what we have. There is a story about a rich man that finds a man lazily man sitting by his boat. “Why aren’t you fishing?” asks the rich man. “Because I’ve caught enough fish for today.” “Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asks. “What would I do with them?” replied the fisherman. “You could sell them for money, buy a better boat, go into deeper water, catch even more fish and make lots more money. Soon you could have a fleet of fishing boats and be rich like me.” So the fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” “You could sit down and enjoy life.” To which he replied “What do you think I’m doing now?” Chasing the myth of more always moves us away from contentment and into crazy, trying to catch the carrot that is always just out of reach. Next release what you have to help others, 1 Timothy 6:17-19 says “17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” It’s easy to read this verse and fail to realize that we are the rich this verse is referring to. When we compare ourselves to the rest of the world we are rich and this verse gives us four precautions. 1. Don’t become proud of your wealth, don’t think you are better than others because of your bucks. 2. Don’t put your trust in money, security is not your bank account but in the Saviors blood. 3. Use your money to do good, don’t blow your wealth bless with it. Stop hording and start helping. 4. Give cheerfully, giving is the opposite of getting and it is the best cure for coveting. Next we need to learn to think thankful, 1 Timothy 6:6-11 says: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” When we train ourselves to think thankful it not only affect our attitudes but also our actions. Then start coveting the right things, in Philippians 3:8,10 Paul says: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” We need to refocus from the rubbish to the true riches and what is going to last. What are you worshipping wealth or the worthwhile? Are you holding on to truth or the temporary? Do you have a coveting heart or a content heart?