Covetousness Crushes Contentment
You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” Charles Spurgeon
A few years ago, my family toured the place of our son’s employment. This one man’s collection was like a military museum. We went from room to room, warehouse to warehouse, eyeing military armament; everything from weapons to tanks. At the end of the tour, I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “When is enough, enough?”
Coveting is to eagerly desire or to wish for something. The Apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:1, to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. But the tenth commandment clearly shouts, “Thou shalt not covet!” The Hebrew word for covet is “chamad,” which “refers to an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire.” I remember living in Chicago in 1988 and coveting a sapphire blue cable sweater from Lands’ End. It was way out of my price range, $50, but I really wanted it. My Dad knew this, so at Christmas time he sent me the money to buy it. Can you guess what happened after I had purchased it? The sweater that I had to have, wasn’t all that great after all. I had spent so much energy and emotion building up my expectation, that when I received the sweater, I was disappointed. I’m not alone in coveting. The Israelites also coveted. After God so graciously provided food for them in the desert, in the form of manna, they began to crave meat. They just had to have it. St. John of the Cross writes, “The children of Israel did not find in the manna all the sweetness and strength they might have found in it; not because the manna did not contain them, but because they longed for meat.” Let me ask you, What are you longing for? Is there something or someone you’re coveting? That is the very thing preventing the sweetness of contentment in your life. When we focus on what we want, we miss the joy of what we already have. A runner doesn’t focus on the next race he desires to run while running in a current race. No, in order to win, he must focus and put all his energies into the race he’s currently running. Likewise, if we long for what we don’t have, we’ll miss out on the blessings we do have. Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’ll be happy when ______________.” Fill in the blank. “I’ll be happy when I’m married…when I get a better job…when I have a baby…when my kids get along with one another, when I own a larger home…when I go on my dream vacation.” Having a big expectation like that only sets us up for a possible disappointment like I had when I bought the sweater. In Philippians 4:12, Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Paul’s contentment didn’t depend on what he did or didn’t possess; it solely relied on his unchanging intimate relationship with God. For the Apostle Paul, Jesus was enough! Coveting something places that thing above the importance of God. The first 2 commandments emphasize God being our only God-no idolatry allowed. We’re to love Him MORE than anyone or anything else. And when we do this, we will be content with what we already have. So if you absolutely have to have something, crave an intimate relationship with the Lover of your soul.
“He who is not contented with little will never be satisfied with much.” Thomas Benton Brooks
Relevant Reflections: 1. What are you longing for? What is it you absolutely have to have? 2. If others were to watch how you spend your time, money and affections, what would they say you earnestly desire? 3. Spend a few minutes focusing on what you DO have and thank God for it.