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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

I Want...

Have you ever heard anyone confess that they coveted something? Have you ever confessed covetousness? Probably your answer to both questions is ‘No’. Most of us are not even aware that we covet, but the Bible speaks to this sin in huge ways and I wanted us to take a few moments and think this through.

I have been working my way through the book of Hebrews in my personal Bible study time and in the final chapter the Lord opened my eyes to this sin of covetousness. Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV) says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

When we covet something we long for it and set our affections on it.  We may or may not ever possess the thing that we covet, but it consumes our attention. That is worth repeating. We may not ever possess the things we covet, but those things consume our attention.  

John MacArthur says in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on the book of Hebrews, “covetousness is an attitude”. He goes on to say, “covetousness and greed follow a principle of increasing desire and decreasing satisfaction, a form of the law of diminishing returns.”

Often we associate this issue of covetousness with money because money is the means to attaining so much in our world. It is reported that John Rockefeller was asked as a young man how much money he wanted. He is reported to have said, ‘A million dollars’. After he had made a million dollars, someone asked him again about how much money he wanted. He said, “another million’. Do you see increasing desire and decreasing satisfaction at work here? 

Most of us will never have a million dollars, but let’s personalize this to our lives. How many pairs of black shoes or handbags do you need? What size house is big enough? How much recognition do you seek for your service to the Lord? Do you really need another new outfit? Is that new piece of electronic equipment a necessity?     

“Be content with such things as you have.” The NIV puts it this way, “Be content with what you have”, while the NLT says, “Be satisfied with what you have.” The Message Paraphrase urges us to “Be relaxed with you have you.” 

Please understand that I am not saying we should not acquire things. If God has blessed you with the means to acquire and you truly need the items that you are buying, then by all means, shop on sister (or brother)!! There is nothing wrong with a new outfit or handbag or home as long as that thing is not consuming you. MacArthur says, “When we focus on material things, our having will never catch up with our wanting. It is one of God’s unbreakable laws.”

God instructs us in Hebrews 13:5 to remember that He is really all we need because He will never leave us or forsake us. If we have Him, then we have His promises that He will take care of us. Recall what Jesus said in Luke 12:22-23 and 29-31 (NIV):  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

Covetousness is a character issue that is important to the Lord. We need to deeply examine our hearts and do away with any covetousness that is hidden there. God will reward our efforts!

Copyright © 2009 Leah Adams. Used by permission.

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