The sin of coveting is said to be "of all sins the most opposed to God" and "the most dangerous of all sins." If more people sought to rid themselves of it "most of our economic problems would be solved." If we'd take covetousness away "there would be no reason for men to fly at one another's throats."*
Since this sin is one of the most odious, it should be targeted as a prime enemy to be eliminated. We can begin a concentrated effort to slay this inordinate desire for another's goods with the following practices.
1. Praise God from whom all blessings flow - The opposite of covetousness is contentment. Replacing the one with the other must begin with a bountiful exuberance in God (and not just His gifts). It is difficult to be cross with someone else's favors when you are enraptured with the Giver of All.
2. Pray for, rejoice in, and be thankful for the good of others
Paul said that we must "rejoice with those who rejoice." These words are a defense against the evil of jealousy. If we see another's good as an opportunity to praise God and be happy, we will be less likely to want to be robbed of their blessings. This also makes for a much more positive attitude, which usually benefits us in the long run.
3. Repent of & mourn the grotesqueness of the evil.
If you sense the sickening stream of envy, confess it to God and lament its vileness before Him. Be open about what you really feel--that you regret this person should have more than you, that you want them to suffer misfortune, and that you'd rather see them dead than prosper. Then ask God to replace this murderous sin with charity, cheerfulness, and contentment.
4. Meditate on the radical peace that flow from a contented society.
James says that wars and fighting come as a result of envy. Think of the peace that would ensue if our hearts did not burn with this vice. Nations would no more pick up arms to battle one another, church's would have untold harmony, neighbors would probably not need fences.
5. Relish the blessings that could be had if we did not covet
The core of coveting is the "I want it all now" mentality. It thus leads to thieving, increased taxation, higher insurance premiums, etc. If the sin of coveting was less prevalent economies would burst with financial growth. Over time we'd see more wealth in our pockets and the inheritance of future generations would expand almost exponentially.
Growth as a Christian is a lot different than growing a potted plant on your doorstep. The potted plant just sits there, soaking up sun and rain, and it grows. But to be a growing Christian you need to be much more proactive. Its the "working out your salvation" that Paul talks about.
As we enter the summer months, let's think about 5 simple ways to kickstart your walk with Christ and develop greater reverence for God.
1. The "Five Page" Rule - Reading good Christian literature is paramount to a robust faith. What people don't often realize is that just five pages a day can supercharge your spiritual life. Not only will you get a good dose of biblical teaching, you can burn through a book like this one in just a month's time.
2. Double up by Downloading - Multitasking is a great way to beef up your soul. Tapping into that grand reservoir of Christian audio on the internet can make that morning commute or "treadmill time" more spiritually productive. Next time you do the dishes, tune your phone into a sermon by Tim Keller or download a podcast from Nacey Leigh Demoss.
3. Sabbath like a Jew - The Lord designed Sundays to be the "market day of the soul" for the Christian. It's a day to say "no" to the busy-ness of life and concentrate on more God. If we "keep the sabbath day holy" through corporate worship, private reflection/meditation, extended times of personal prayer, or Christian fellowship, we'll see immense changes in our spiritual demeanor.
4. Prayer Challenge - Stonewall Jackson was a great military general, but he was also a great man of prayer. He trained himself to say a prayer every time he took a sip of water or mailed a letter. While you might not pray for every gulp you take, you can add prayer to more of your daily tasks. When you pick up their toys, ask God to bless your kids. When you punch in at work, as God to clock in grace for the day too.
5. Improve Your Baptism - Your baptism wasn't just something that happened long ago and far away. It's a God given tool in your spiritual arsenal. Reflecting on it's meaning and reality can be of great benefit in fighting temptation, dissuading doubt, and confirming you in grace. Martin Luther encouraged his congregation to simply repeat, "I've been baptized! I've been baptized!" from time to time as a way of reminding them of the saving promises of the gospel.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.