Try saying that 3 times fast! Whew!!
I have a whole post coming about this because the Lord really dealt with my heart on this particular issue as I was preparing for this lesson. I want to share my personal struggles with it, but here is the outline of the lesson I taught in Bible study on covetousness.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:20-21
Most of us don’t see ourselves as greedy, yet we are caught in a trap of living with “If only…” Deep down we’ve convinced ourselves that life would be better if we had just a little more, so we live discontented- forever craving, grasping, wishing, wanting, and striving for that next thing. This thirst for more is exactly what the Bible describes as greed or covetousness.
In our first lesson we looked at complaining. It was this craving for their own desires that sent the children of Israel wandering into the desert for the rest of their lives. They weren’t satisfied with the miracles God provided; they could only be satisfied with what they wanted and more of it until it killed them. Covetousness is like a thirsty man drinking salt water- you think it will quench your thirst, but it causes dehydration and death. It can’t satisfy.
What is covetousness?
· Wanting the wrong things
· Wanting right things for the wrong reasons
· Wanting right things at the wrong time
· Wanting right things in the wrong amount
-Covetousness is wanting wrong things like power, control, wealth, success at any cost, esteem at any cost, or glory and praise.
-It is wanting right things for the wrong reasons like leadership (for control) or to be spiritual (for the reputation).
-It is wanting right things at the wrong time like a lovely home (but with drowning debt) or marital intimacy (but before marriage).
-It is wanting right things in the wrong amount like money (more of it) or influence (in dangerous amounts).
**More of anything other than God will NEVER fill that longing for fulfillment He has placed within you- It is satisfied in Him alone.
**Things were never designed to take God’s place. When we covet something and make it essential, then beg God to give it to us, we are asking God to replace Himself with something we consider more important. When we do this, God will often allow us to experience firsthand the consequences of substituting anything for Him.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”- Exodus 20:17
We tend to minimize covetousness, but the Bible puts it in the “big list.” While other Commandments deal with things we do outwardly, this one has to do with what we do inwardly; and while other Commandments deal with forbidden actions, this one deals with forbidden actions.
If your bank statement could talk, it would tell a big piece of your life story- your priorities, your strengths, your weaknesses. It could even describe the location and condition of your heart. Your attitude toward money and the practical, financial management of all the resources God has provided you and your family play a huge part of Godly, purposeful living. Matched with wisdom, a spirit of generosity, and the desire to apply what the Scripture says about money, your financial management provides a realistic indicator of your spiritual maturity.
Coveting includes giving anything other than God our best affection and highest attention.
1. More is not better.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15
2. Hoarding is for fools.
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God. Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” – Luke 12:21-23
3. You can’t outgive God.
“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” –Luke 12:29-31
4. What you cherish reveals your heart.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Luke 12:34
5. The time to give is NOW.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” –Luke 12: 35, 40
**When deep in your heart you believe more money would make you happier and getting more money is your highest priority, you are in bondage to finances.
Covetousness includes these 5 areas:
1. Coveting material things, money, and things money can buy
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” -1 Timothy 6:10
2. Coveting status or position
“A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” –Luke 22:24
3. Coveting your own agenda
“For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6
4. Coveting after people
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” –Matthew 5:28
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” –Ephesians 5:3
5. Coveting power
“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” –Acts 8:18-19
Warnings Against Covetousness:
1. Covetousness never brings satisfaction. (Luke 12:15, Ecclesiastes 5:11)
2. Covetousness hinders your spiritual life. (Mark 4:1-20)
3. Covetousness leads to other sins. (1 Timothy 6:10, James 4:2)
4. Covetousness lets you down when you need help the most. (1 Timothy 6:7)
5. Covetousness destroys the soul. (1 Timothy 6:9)
Think about some people who threw it all away because of greed and covetousness.
Genesis 3:1-7: ________________threw it all away in order to gain ___________________.
Joshua 7:21: ________________threw it all away in order to gain _____________________.
1 Kings 21: ________________threw it all away in order to gain _____________________.
2 Kings 5: ________________threw it all away in order to gain _____________________.
Matthew 26:15; 27:3-5: ___________threw it all away in order to gain ________________.
Acts 5:1-11: ________________threw it all away in order to gain _____________________.
Reference: MacDonald, James. Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (April 1, 2008)