“The man who covets is always poor.”
The way of sin is a downhill spiral. Rarely do we stub our toe on a rock and fall over a cliff called sin. More often “harmless,” gradual steps are taken which lead to sin. If you retrace your steps though, you may find the hook is in the look. When a fish looks at bait it wants to eat it. Once it takes a bite the hook is firmly set in its mouth and its end is in sight. Likewise, Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden began in her eye. Genesis 3:6 says, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Many sins start with one look.
Joshua 7:20-21 is another passage which confirms the hook is in the look. “Achan replied, ‘It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.'” All it took was one look and the hook of coveting was set in Achan’s heart. It was after he looked at those treasures, he wanted them. In fact, he had to have them. You’ll discover from reading on in the passage, Achan’s sin not only cost him his life, but also the lives of his family.
Coveting is “earnestly desiring or wishing for; desiring inordinately to obtain or possess.” One of the simplest ways to keep yourself from coveting is to avoid looking. I usually am content with my clothes until I browse around in a department store. If you have a weakness for shoes, stay away from the shoe department, unless you have a need to purchase a pair. All it takes is one look and then you’re hooked.
It’s the same for me with food. There are certain foods that I really enjoy, but if they’re not good for me, then I can’t have them in the house. Seeing them in my pantry or freezer tempts me to eat them.
The tenth commandment reads, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) We’re clearly instructed not to covet other people’s spouses. God promises us in I Corinthians 10:13 that He will provide a way of escape when tempted. When you see someone of the opposite sex who is attractive, turn your gaze from them. If there’s no look to hook you, then you’ll remain satisfied with the one you love.
So what shall we set our gaze upon? What are we to view with fixed attention? King David writes in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” David had the right idea. If you’re going to look, look at Jesus and let the hook of His love lodge deep down within your heart.
“The more of heaven we cherish, the less of earth we covet.”
1. In what areas do you struggle with coveting?
2. Describe a spiral downhill into sin which began with a look hooking you.
3. Explain a time when God helped you escape from temptation.