Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, once spoke of a Catholic bishop named St. Francis de Sales. This prelate was known as an "eminent confessor" to whom many went for the confession of sins. There were multitudes of sins confessed to him, even some of the most horrific ones such as adultery and murder! Though it might have seemed like he had heard them all throughout the years, St. Francis de Sales admitted that not one person had ever confessed the sin of covetousness to him! To this thought, Spurgeon stated, "I feared the sin was so very common that people did not know when they were covetous and that the man who was most covetous of all was the last person to suspect himself of it!"
Though many might not view covetousness in the same light as more "heinous" sins, Jesus views it on the same level! Paul warned many of the churches that he helped of this very thing. To the Colossians he wrote, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness...", to the Ephesians, he pled, "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you", and to the Corinthians, he reminded, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous..." This is why covetousness is the "silent sin" of churches today - it bears as much weight as other "serious" sins but doesn't raise eyebrows of attention!
Covetousness causes a Christian to take his eyes off of God's provisions and to look to what is available elsewhere. This sin caused Eve to go after what she wanted (the tree of knowledge) instead of relying on God's provision (the rest of the trees in the garden). It is what led to the deaths of Achan and his family when he took of the forbidden spoils. This is what led David, the prodigal son, the rich young ruler, and MANY others to their downfall!
The remedy to the virus of covetousness lies in contentment. A preacher once defined contentment as "realizing that God has already provided everything I need for my present and future happiness". This definition echoes Paul's sentiment in Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have..." Instead of setting our eyes on what we don't have, we should remind ourselves of what we already have. If we sincerely take a moment to count the many blessings that God has given us undeservingly, we will realize how good God has been to us already!
One of the reasons that we sometimes grow blind to our covetousness is because it is our natural tendency. Our sinful nature pulls us to greed, selfishness, and covetousness. Contentment is something that needs to be learned and purposely applied! Paul speaks of this when he said, "...I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Similar to how we produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit, contentment can be produced as we live spiritually!
As we strive to live out God's Word and His will, may we guard our hearts against any covetousness that may get between us and the Lord. May our Christian lives reflect the old hymn that reads, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
A great habit to develop is to, like our hymn reads, "count your blessings" daily!
The fear of the Lord leads to a life of humility, obedience, and faith.