Wednesday, November 13 2019
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Crowds of people were stepping on one another to hear Jesus. Jesus responded to the man, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:13–14). Then, Jesus warned the crowd, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15 ESV).
Is it coveting to want one’s inheritance? Coveting is greatly desiring something especially when it belongs to another. The tenth command is “You shall not covet […] anything that is your neighbor's” (Exod 20:17). The apostle Paul wrote, “For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (Rom 7:7b). That's true for every one of us.
Paul translated the tenth commandment as “You shall not covet” with the same Greek that translators rendered “lust” in Matthew 5:28. Jesus preached in Matthew 5:28, “but I say unto you that everyone who looks at a woman to want her has committed adultery already with her in his heart” (translation). Jesus is not condemning women for their physical beauty but the act of men to look with want. Sexual sins begin with looking to want. Fathers should teach their sons not to look to covet women (Eph 6:4). Women too should avoid looking to want and fantasizing about another husband.
Coveting is among Jesus’s list of evil things that come from within and defile a person (Mark 7:20–23). What is so wrong with coveting? Among sexual sins and desires, Paul revealed, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5; cf. Eph 5:5). The Christian must put to death coveting especially wanting a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Coveting is idolatry. Those who covet are worshipping something other than God.
Jesus taught, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt 6:24a). When a person wants another sexual relationship, that person will come to despise his or her spouse. Foolish people who are agnostic of God do this. Believers who drift from God do the same. Covetousness chokes out one’s life with God. Jesus taught, “And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14).
If you want more than you need or desire what someone else has, then you are coveting (Deut 5:21). Many do not realize they are coveting when they want and try to become someone else who has attention, wealth, influence, or freedom. If you are looking for significance or acceptance in anything other than God and the faithful people whom He has put in your life, you are coveting. If you want someone who is not your spouse, you are coveting. If you want something over church and Bible study, then you are coveting.
At the root of many personal problems, we have our wants and unmet needs. However, Christians must be very careful not to confuse wants for needs. The personal needs of purpose and love are met by God. Every person is responsible for finding God for God is not far from anyone to seek and find Him (Acts 17:26–27). However, many want more than God and wanting more than God is coveting.
Thank God that He meets our every need. God loved us when we were sinners (Rom 5:8). God wants us now to be saved and repent (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). God has gives us an eternal purpose and mission to glorify Him (Matt 5:14–16; 1 Pet 2:9).