Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave….”
…and so the classic poem begins.
Whitman goes on to impress upon the reader how short life really is, and how we all will meet the same judgment regardless of wealth or social status. It is quite provoking.
In light of the poetry, today I would like to impress upon YOU, my reader…the value of living a God-fearing life with: Next to Nothing.
Sisters, we’ve heard it all before…”godliness with contentment is great gain”; “I have learned in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content”; “thou shalt not covet”, etc. etc. These verses are nothing new to our ears, but like anything we’ve heard several times, we are constantly needing to re-evaluate whether or not we mindlessly graze over the passages, or if we will purpose to live out the words daily.
Covetousness is a sin I greatly struggled with in my earlier years, although I never even KNEW that I WAS coveting, or being discontent. It is only in the past year or so that I have come to understand more clearly what God expects from me (from all of us) in this area. Naturally, I feel compelled to share it with you!
See friends, covetousness is not always about things. Now don’t get me wrong, it can be about things and oftentimes is! But what I think covetousness truly is at the very root, is a sense of entitlement. It is an attitude that says “because I am, I desire – and because I desire, I shall have”. This covetousness can apply to many areas in our life – perhaps you covet things, perhaps you covet attention, or perhaps you struggle with coveting life’s best – and I’ll explain what I mean by that shortly.
We will begin with an example of the coveting of things.
Introducing Melissa, a woman who covets material items…
“I really wish I had a new phone. It sure would be nice; I can’t stand the one I have. Why should I be expected to use last year’s technology in the clothes I’ve worn for the last five years while living in a small-town hovel of a home? I just know my husband could make more money if he just worked harder, but he’s so lazy. Besides, why does my friend Tracy always have what she wants? I work hard while just scraping by, but yet someone like her has always had life handed to her on a silver platter. It’s just not fair!”
Do you see how sneaky the sin of covetousness is? It almost always seems to have a snowball effect – feeding upon unhappiness while causing more sin to creep into Melissa’s life — and anyone else’s who will fall prey to this sin sickness.
What started out for Melissa as seemingly harmless dreaming about a new phone brought out her deeper feelings of unhappiness and discontentedness, while also encouraging dishonoring and rebellious thoughts towards her husband, bitterness and jealousy towards her friend, and a sense of entitlement. Melissa played around with sinful thoughts, and the sin won.
Sin – <1>
Melissa – <0>
1 Timothy 6:7-8 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith be content.
Jodi, a covetor of attention….
“I don’t understand why Ashley didn’t say hi to me earlier! It’s not like she didn’t see me, I mean hello – I was right there. I just hate being ignored. I’m sure she did it on purpose, too. You know it’s pretty obvious that she’s got a problem with me, seeing that she’s not been quite as nice ever since Lance took an interest in me. Seriously though, it’s not my problem that he has better taste than to pick a mediocre girl like her. Whatever…next time we’ll just see if she likes getting ignored…who needs friends like her anyway”
SNOWBALL EFFECT MUCH?
Covetousness has a huge effect on everything in life, because let’s face it…if we’re being discontent we are not being thankful, we are not being dicreet, we are not being soberminded….we are not being any of the beautiful things that a christian woman needs to be to keep her spirit in check.
Because of Jodi’s covetousness to be noticed she very possibly unrighteously judged her friend, became puffed up with pride, and finally ended up with a vengeful heart. She played around with sinful thoughts, and the sin won.
Sin – <1>
Jodi – <0>
Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
Then we have Keisha, who always seems to be coveting life’s best….
“Whenever I was a child, I always dreamed of the full, exciting life I would have. I just knew I would have a beautiful house with beautiful furnishings, a career that I love, a husband who cherishes me, and a houseful of kids running around the yard. But nothing EVER turns out the way I envision. Here I am in a rinky-dink two-bedroom apartment, stuck in my dead-end job. Oh and my “cherishing” husband? Cherish is hardly the word I would use to describe the feelings Derek has for me….maybe friendly toleration, at best. Besides, I know he blames me for the fact that we still don’t have even one child to speak of after 8 years of marriage. I don’t deserve this. I would have probably been better off if I would have stayed single. At least I wouldn’t have to pick up after the messes my husband leaves for me to take care of. Ugh, I wish somebody would just take me out of my misery. I am so done.”
Girls, as cliche as it may sound, contented people really are the happiest. I used to think that I “deserved” the most loving husband, the most obedient children, the most jovial employer, etc. But then a couple years ago my husband said something to me that I will never forget – “Babe, none of us deserve anything, for we are all so vile and wicked”. I have heard it said that the only thing we “deserve” is hell, and if the only good thing that we ever received were Jesus Christ’s pardon for our sin, that would be enough. (Hebrews 13:5) May God give us the grace to remember this each day.
Keisha’s careless dreaming let her mind go to sinful places it shouldn’t have gone – and yep, you guessed it. The sin won out again.
Sin – <1>
Keisha – <0>
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
I’m pretty sure we all can see the error in covetousness, yet we almost all still do it. We know it’s wrong, but since it’s not one of those *big* public sins like say….homosexuality or shacking up with a boyfriend, we tend to let ourselves off the hook from time to time and just go ahead and soothe our wounds with that ever comforting butcher’s knife.
The reality is, no matter how much we like to imagine it’s just a teensy-weensy microscopic sin, it’s not. In fact, in Mark 7:22, 1 Corinthians 6:10, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5 we can find covetousness ranked up there with “the worst of the worst”…..lying, hatred, adultery, fornication…now those are the really bad ones, right? The ones that God assures us that we will not be part of His Kingdom if we will not repent of, and yep – covetousness is right there with them.
Like the words of the poet, we will someday pass from this life to the grave…and how will we be judged thereafter? As we who had joy despite next to no material wealth, next to no attention, next to none of life’s best? Or we who felt like we never had enough, while being blessed daily? I know how I want to be judged.
Psalms 30:11-12 Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
God bless, and take a chill pill!
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.