This is something that I am currently having to guard myself against. The bite of covetousness can be so very subtle; making seemingly innocuous desires grow into something much more sinister, sin.
Last summer, our church was encouraged to memorize the book of Colossians. What a feat! But I was in! I actually only fully conquered the first three chapters. I was really looking forward to getting to the third chapter which focused on setting my affections on the things that are above and not on things that are on earth. It is also where the Apostle Paul exhorts the believer to focus on dying to those things that are earthly.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
In my over forty years of being a believer, I can honestly say that I have never even given much thought to the tenth commandment not to covet.
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. Exodus 20:17 KJV
To covet something according to Merriam-Webster is to wish for earnestly; or desire what belongs to another. Coveting goes beyond merely wishing for or desiring. It becomes all-consuming, even to the point of planning how it can be obtained, at all costs.
One classic example of coveting is found by one of Israel’s kings, King David. While he should have been out to war as king, he was home relaxing. It was during this time that David sees a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful. David ends up inquiring to learn who she was, and learns she was married to one of his men who was away fighting the battle.
As the story goes, David takes her, she becomes pregnant, David tries to cover up his sin and then arranged to have her husband killed. You can read this whole account in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 chapters.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on Thursday, April 11th I almost put my house up for sale. I was telling myself that now would be the time, that moving to a better location our auto insurance rate would go down, and our property taxes would not be as high. Pretty flimsy reasoning, don’t you think?
What was happening internally? I think it was a convergence of several things; having heard “this isn’t the best neighborhood”, having my sister consider a move, a couple people from church moving and all the excitement that goes with that, (at least, that’s how I see it). Did I mention that I am an HGTV fan? House Hunters, Fixer Upper, and Property Brothers are my favorites.
So, there I was on the internet looking and looking and looking for homes. I finally found one that was in a great area, because it’s all about location, location, location. Isn’t that what they tell us? It was super cheap, and super ugly, but figured it would be a great investment, and practically double once we upgraded it, not to sell but for us. My husband agreed.
Although, we had already begun some great upgrades in our home, and I really did want to finish them, there was this pull. It was then, I started struggling with why do I want to do this? I openly poured it out before the Lord, confessing all possibilities, knowing that he knows me. He knows that I can rationalize anything to make it okay.
It was also shortly before this that I had been meditating and praising God for being faithful to his word; particularly, Matthew 6:33, which I memorized in my younger years.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.
As I considered my life, I saw that God was true to that promise: all these things, the things he addressed in the earlier verses, were in fact provided. I didn’t worry about food, clothing, shelter or transportation. He had provided my needs, as I sought to grow in him, to put off what was earthly in me and put on his characteristics, and even that was a gift. (Philippians 2:12-13)
I came home from prayer service that Wednesday night and told my husband that we can cancel the appointment, and he was okay with it. I sent an email before I went to bed canceling the appointment and letting them know that we were no longer interested in pursuing. What relief!
I was content to remain in my neighborhood. Besides, I’m really not sure that I have impacted it with the gospel of Christ that allows me to move on.
So why was I about to put it up for sale? Was it covetousness? Maybe, I’m not really certain, but I do know that dissatisfaction with your current circumstances can lead you there especially when you start looking around.