As we continue the topic of coveting, I wanted to point something out to avoid confusion. There is a distinction between lust, greed and coveting. Lust is more general and deals with pleasure. And greed involves obtaining money and possessions. But coveting is a longing for something specific that someone else possesses. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exod. 20:17).
Strong desires that grow out of control lead one to try and obtain something no matter what the expense is to others. The person with strong desire wants something no matter the cost, even if it causes others to get hurt in the process. Such coveting can lead to devious behavior, it can be complex and it can also be concealed. Jeremiah tells us that the heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked”!
What is the primary enemy of generosity?
Covetousness! Covetousness takes and never gives! It cannot give, because giving comes at a sacrifice, and covetousness wants more! Consider that the Western world today is built on covetousness. The more discontent and dissatisfied you are, the more likely you are to be a consumer. Consumers make business owners wealthy.
To Covet is Destruction and Idolatry
I believe covetousness is destructive, and that is why God forbids it. Buried deep inside covetousness, hiding in the shadows, is the worst characteristic behind the coveting nature. Idolatry.
Think back to the Garden. What was the sin that ultimately led to the Fall? It was idolatry. Eve coveted, desired greatly, to eat the fruit so that she could be like God! Thus, coveting is the root of sin.
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
By ending the Ten Commandments with the same theme as they began, idolatry, isn’t is just like the nature of God, to bring us full circle?
Not all Coveting is Evil
I want to clarify something here. I am not saying that we should have a life without aims, goals or desires. I am not saying it is bad to want to buy a house or to save money for a deposit for a house, or to buy a new car if we need one. It is not bad to want stability, security, love, affection, etc. Not all desire is coveting, and not all coveting is evil!
If we strongly desire the things God has forbidden us, this is coveting what is evil. Consider this, no one covets things of little value. No one longs for worthless things. But when we covet the wrong things, this is not good. Again, when we covet what belongs to someone else, things we can’t have, and we deceive ourselves into thinking by possessing this thing we will gain eternal contentment, this is an example of coveting the wrong things.
If we profess to have fellowship with God, then a relationship with Him and His Son is what we should be coveting the most. It is the thing of highest value. Do you see where I am heading? If we have deep desire for anything above God, this is idolatry. The thing we desire owns us, becomes our god. This is evil.
To summarize the subject of coveting what is not good for us, let us look at coveting under the microscope of God’s eye. It is destructive. It is costly. It is deceptive. It is, above all else, idolatry.
For me, taking a fine tooth comb through coveting has been a slap in the face, but I must welcome it. If I stand corrected, and agree with God that I have coveted for many long years, I can bring my coveting to the light and pray and trust that from the warmth, the heat of the light of the Lord Jesus, my coveting nature will one day burn off just like the grey clouds on a summer day in Spain. When the heat of the day rises, the clouds fade into nothing!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…