In a previous post, we looked at four reasons to be on guard against the sin of covetousness. Jesus says, “Be watchful and be on guard against all greed/covetousness. For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions,” (Luke 12:15). This is the evil desire of constantly wanting what we don’t have, especially when our neighbor does. When we harbor covetous desires, we despise God’s providence and gifts he has already given to us. We become ungrateful, discontent, and poor stewards of our possessions. Here we finish this two-part post with four more reasons to guard against covetousness.
It creates hatred for your neighbor rather than love.
If you look at your neighbor and his or her possessions with an envious eye, you are failing to fulfill the second greatest commandment to love them. Covetousness tends to breed hatred rather than love for neighbors instead. Admiring a neighbor’s possessions easily turns into a belief that they don’t really deserve it and you do.
It stirs up other sinful thoughts and desires.
Sin always begins in the heart and rarely stays there. Heart sins break out into the world and create all kinds of evil consequences. Heart sins such as coveting also stir up other sinful thoughts and desires, such as pride, slander, sloth, complaining, scheming, bitterness, and the like. Cut out the root of covetousness with diligence to spare yourself from an onslaught of other sins.
It may lead to sinful planning.
If you continually want what someone else has, believe that you deserve it, and foster animosity towards your neighbor because of it, eventually you will want to break out and do something about it. Do not fool yourself into believing you can manage your coveting. What begins as admiration can easily become envy, and eventually you can convince yourself that what you are experiencing is really an injustice. And injustice demands action.
It is a hunger that cannot be quenched until you are consumed.
The irony of covetousness, and part of what makes it so dreadful, is that it is a sin without pleasure. Sensual lust can take short pleasure in the beauty of the human body before it produces destruction. Lying gives short comfort that we won’t be found and can avoid consequences. Pride supports the illusion of self-sufficiency. Even stealing generally allows the thief to gain some short-term enjoyment. But covetousness confers no benefit short or long term. It is just hunger that can never be satiated. It is a bitter poison that eats you alive with sorrow and frustration.
Covetousness is not God’s will for you. Rather, decide with God’s help that you will be content with what he has given you in this current season. View everything as a gift and not a right, so you can receive it with joy as you ought. Even more, the purpose in your heart is to make God himself your greatest treasure. Look to Jesus for your satisfaction and joy. Then the words of a familiar hymn will prove true: “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”