Dealing with Covetousness Col 3: 5 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Covetousness is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as an inordinate desire for wealth or possessions. That is what Jesus warned his disciples about in Lk 12:15. But it is more than that, according to the Bible. The tenth commandment says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” In other words, you can covet more than wealth and possessions. You can covet people. You can covet anything.
Paul called covetousness, idolatry. He said a covetous man is an idolater [Eph 5:5]. That is, you put the thing you desire above God. He also said that this sin will affect your inheritance in the kingdom of God [1 Cor 6:9-10]. The Lord abhors covetousness [Ps 10:3]. His wrath is against the children of disobedience for this sin and others similar to it [Eph 5:6; Col 3:6]. In Jos 7:21, the man who kept some of the spoil from Jericho did so because of covetousness. And they killed him for it. The sin that destroyed Israel before the Babylonian captivity was covetousness [Jer 6:13]. And the sin that is tearing up this generation of Christians in these perilous times is covetousness [2 Tim 3:1-2]. It is the sin listed right after “men shall be lovers of their own selves.”
As you hear these words, you don’t think of yourself as covetous. But remember that the Lord had to warn his own disciples to beware of covetousness. It’s down in your heart [Mk 7:21-22]. And with the advent of television, movies, internet, social media, and the like, we are inundated with things and people to covet. If you think about it, David coveted Bathsheba. We think of his sin with her as the result of the lust of the eyes. But he had wives and concubines with whom he could have lien if lust was his only problem. His problem was covetousness. He coveted his neighbor’s wife and violated the tenth commandment. And that’s why he took her.
The way to deal with covetousness is as follows:
Ask the Lord to search you – Ps 139:23-24 – He searches your heart to show you that the sin is there. He searches your thoughts to show you how covetousness is affecting your thinking. He will put his finger right on the sin and how the sin manifests itself in your heart. He will also show you how it is affecting your way. That is, he’ll show you what you’re doing as a result of your covetousness, how you are manipulating people and circumstances to get what you want.
Acknowledge your sin – Ps 51:4 – once the Lord shows you the covetousness that’s in your heart, acknowledge that he is right. It’s like going to the doctor and agreeing with the doctor’s diagnosis when your ailment is the result of an unhealthy habit in your life. Agree with God in each detail of what he reveals to you about covetousness in your life: what you want, what you are willing to do to get it, how you are thinking about it, how you are feeding your desire to get it, how you are arranging to get it, and so forth.
Repent – once you have acknowledged the sin, repent of it. To repent of covetousness is to turn from it [1 Thes 1:9] and to turn to God. The thing or person you covet is an idol. Your repentance is often accompanied by godly sorrow [2 Cor 7:10]. You want to be done with this sin.
Reckon yourself dead – Col 3:5; Rom 6:11-12 – if you realize that you are dead in Christ through the new birth [Rom 6:3-4] then then whatever you are coveting is being coveted by a corpse. You don’t need that, you’re dead. You can’t have that, you’re dead. Mortify it.
Go a different way – Ps 139:24 – David said “and lead me in the way everlasting.” You are a new creature in Christ, so yield to the righteousness of Jesus [Rom 6:13-14] and let him lead you to something far better than what you have been coveting. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Put on the new man.
Love the Lord, instead – Matt 22:36-37 – if covetousness is idolatry then covetousness leads you to love the thing you covet more than you love the Lord. Replace your love for the thing you covet with your love for the Lord. Fill your heart, soul and mind with love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Magnify him, praise him, think about him, read his words, sing to him, talk to him and be ravished with his love.
Conclusion: covetousness is a terrible sin and it is also hard to deal with. You must start by recognizing it is in you and then work through the above to deal with it in your life.