Covetousness and Contentment


Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5 
 Covetousness is such an ugly word. 

It's also a misunderstood word (at least I misunderstood it until I looked it up).  I always thought coveting was simply wanting something that belonged to someone else, which I do all the time! The problem was I excused myself by saying, "I don't want her thing-a-ma-gig...I just wish I had one too." Or, "I don't need her whats-a-ma-doodle...I just want something like that." See? Coveting problem solved.

But it's not that simple. The dictionary defines coveting as an earnest wish for something. It can be a wrong desire for someone else's possessions, but it can also mean an extreme desire for something you don't have. 

Of course, we all have somethings we really want. I want to lose weight,  buy new clothes, get a bigger house, get a cleaner house (and not have to clean it). I want more blog followers, to be more crafty, a baby that sleeps through the night, and a husband who does his own laundry all the laundry!

There you have it. That's my wish list. The question is when do I start to cross the line into coveting territory? I think it's when my desire for those things start to trump my desire for the things of God. I can't speak for everybody, but I made a quick check list to help me keep perspective.

1. How often do I think about these things? Do I think about them more than I think about scripture? How often do I take these desires before God in prayer, and give them to him? 

2. Are my motives pure? Do I want something because it would be good for me and my family, or because somebody else has it? Am I more worried about keeping up with the cool crowd or following Jesus?

3. Does this desire take away from my obedience to God? Does this desire promote materialism? Can we afford the things we buy? Is this desire taking up too much of my time and energy that should be focused on the things of God?

It's also important to remember that we can covet things that aren't things.

By that I mean we can covet things that are material possessions. We can covet other people's freedom, their opportunities, their health, their jobs or their lifestyle. It matters less what it is and more how much we want it.

The Flip Side: Being Content

Being content means being in a state of peaceful happiness.  It means being satisfied with what you have and not wanting anything more. 

It does not mean settling for less than you want because you have too. 
It does not mean grudgingly accepting what you have because it's what your stuck with.
It does not mean sitting around wishing you had something, but telling yourself you don't really need it while pouting the entire time and hoping your husband will give in and buy it for you...(of course I don't ever do that!)

True contentment starts with our attitude. It starts by evaluating what's important and treasuring those things. 

I love, love, love Hebrews 13:5 because Paul reminds us that as Christians we have a promise that is greater than anything we could desire to posses. Here read it again:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
When Paul says, "he will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" he's talking about Jesus. God promises believers that He is always with us, and He always has our best interest at heart. It may be easy for us to get distracted by a world full of "stuff," but when you think about what we have as Christians, there is nothing in this world that compares. 

We have the love of an everlasting God. 
We have Salvation in Christ Jesus.
We have a direct line to the Creator of the Universe. 
We have the hope of eternal life and treasures incorruptible. 
We have an assurance that evil will come to an end and good will prevail!
We have the blessings of the Almighty God. 
We have the Word of God, written down for each of us to read. 
We have the Spirit of God which gives us power over sin and temptation. 

Really, what more could we ask for? So when Paul tells us to be without covetousness and to be content, he isn't saying make do with what you have. He's reminding us that what we have is far superior to anything (and I mean anything) we could possibly want. 

Because we already have everything. Jesus. 

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