To covet: To desire or wish for, with eagerness. (1828 Webster’s Dictionary)
Coveting. It happens. Moms look at other moms. Bloggers look at other bloggers. Women look at other women. All desiring something the other has. Maybe better behaved children? Maybe a more popular blog? Maybe a slender figure? Coveting can even take the form of desiring another’s spouse, home, or job.
It is not hard to covet. Our eyes, following our deceitful heart, wander away from what is enough and perfect for us and aspires for what is not. Yet we need to be aware that this is a serious sin akin to idolatry. Desiring something that is another’s is a stumbling block in our faith and relationship with God. Also, when we look outside of what God has deemed is best for us, we dump the joy of contentment.
Covetousness breeds unrest and complaining. It pulls the heart down into the mire of a self-pleasing attitude. It removes us from the will of God. We no longer “Set [our] minds on things that are above.” (Colossians 3:2, brackets mine) Instead, we set our heart on things on earth. This is a difficult and trying way to live life because our coveting will never be satisfied. Whatever it is we think we need or want won’t be enough or attainable because it was never meant for us to begin with.
We must be careful to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) Jesus warns us to “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) We need to keep a close eye on our jealous heart so covetous temptations don’t take hold of us.
Here are 4 powerful ways to avoid the snare of covetousness:
1. Prayer. Prayer is powerful because our Father is mighty. It is necessary to jump on sin and not let it inundate our lives. God is faithful to hear our prayer and to help us. Remember “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
2. Gratefulness. A grateful heart will not want what it doesn’t have. Andrew Murray teaches, “Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” Gratefulness puts our attention on God so we have no opportunity to look elsewhere and covet. He is more than enough to fill our hearts, mind and soul. Being grateful also helps us appreciate what God has given us here on earth. Giving “thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” produces contentment in all things.
3. Be content. A content heart won’t desire other than what it has in any given moment. We learn this from Paul, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) Paul was in bonds and imprisoned but he learns to bring his mind and heart to accept it and make the best of it. If we do the same, seek contentment, covetousness won’t get a foothold in our life. There is rest and sufficiency in being content. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
4. Eternal focus. Keeping our eyes focused on things above and not on things on earth will put life in perspective. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 16:19-21) Treasuring our eternal life encourages us to see what is truly important. It isn’t about having more but about looking forward to life in our eternal home.
Ephesians 5:6 clearly states, “Covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints.” A very clear warning that we must heed. Love your life and the design of it. God is perfect in His will and purpose for each of us. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) How we are made is done wonderfully and fearfully by the hands of God. Our lot in this life is just what we need to live and thrive. Most importantly, God loves us and we can count on that love daily to fill us to overflowing so our eyes and heart are not wandering, looking for something better.
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