For the past few weeks, we’ve explored the idea that it’s easier for us to focus on God with less stuff in our lives. The world wants to bog us down with materialism and possessions and chasing wealth, because in the pursuit of those things, we’ve taken our eyes off of serving God. We’ve also talked about the fact that creating space, whether in our closets or our schedules, allows us to better minister to those around us. Simplifying our lives gives us the opportunity to focus on the things that are eternal. I want to explore another side of this topic, which is the sin of coveting:
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed… coveting,” (Mark 7:21,22).
What do we desire? Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21). Our desire or treasure can be our making or breaking.
The word for coveting, or covetousness, is found in Colossians 3:5. It is described as an earthly and idolatrous disposition that should not exist within the Christian heart. Jesus connects covetousness with the selfish desire for the acquisition and/or the hoarding of material possessions (Luke 12:15-21). In the Old Testament, God warned His people not to covet other people or someone else’s possessions (Exodus 20:17).
Coveting is closely connected to concepts of lust and envy. It is a heart problem because our heart’s desire for a person or thing outweighs our desire to please God. When we do this, the person or thing becomes our object of worship. This path can be adequately described as exchanging the truth about God for a lie, worshiping and serving the creature and not the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Like so many problems of the heart, covetousness grows from a selfish desire for something other than God. Jesus emphasized the need to remove the source of sin, in this case improper desire, to prevent sin from occurring (Matthew 5:29,30). We cannot just remove the desire; we must replace it! As Paul wrote, “Set your mind on the things above, not on things that are on earth,” (Colossians 3:2).
Whatever that thing is, we cannot take it into eternity. By giving in to covetousness, we trade an everlasting promise for a temporary passion. So, what is your heart’s desire?