The Sin of Covetousness: 4 Lessons to Avoid Covetousness

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The Bible mentions covetousness numerous times. But we don’t exactly know what it is. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what the Bible says about the sin of covetousness.

Covetousness is the extreme desire to take what belongs to others.

The Bible uses the word covet both in the positive and negative sense. That’s why it is crucial to know the context of the Scriptures before formulating a conclusion.

Covet: To desire or wish for, with eagerness; to desire sincerely to obtain or possess; in a good sense.

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:31

This verse teaches us to desire the best gifts to serve Christ to the best of our abilities. However, the Bible uses the word covet mainly in a negative sense.

Covet: To desire exceedingly; to desire that which is unlawful to obtain or possess; in a bad sense.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17

God commands us not to covet things that do not belong to us. Therefore, covetousness is the extreme desire to take what belongs to others. It’s ok to desire to have a wife, possessions, and material things. But if you wish to take the wife, possessions, or material things that belong to another, that is covetousness.

The sin of covetousness defiles a person.

20And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Mark 7:20-23

Defile: To make unclean.

Covetousness is innate in the heart of a person. This sin is one of the wicked things in our hearts that defiles us. For this reason, the Bible teaches us to get rid of covetousness.

Notice that all the sins mentioned in Mark 7:20-23 are related. Because of covetousness, people have evil thoughts, commit murders, adultery, thefts, deceit, blasphemy, and many more.

The sin of covetousness is idolatry.

3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:3-5

Paul equates covetousness with idolatry. Therefore, he warns the Ephesians to avoid these sins. And we need to prevent this sin as well.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Colossians 3:5

Idolatry: The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands or which is not God.

Paul once again equates covetousness with idolatry in the book of Colossians. However, worshipping false gods is not the limitation of idolatry because anything that takes the preeminence of God in our life is idolatry.

Idolatry: Excessive attachment or veneration for anything that borders on adoration.

Therefore, possessions, careers, relationships, and money can be an idol. Notice that people worship what they covet the most. If you desire God, then you will worship Him.

However, you won’t worship God if you worship anything else. This attitude is evident in the things that people prioritize in their life. People prioritize their careers, relationships, and finances but not God.

13No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. 14Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Luke 16:13-14

The Pharisees hated the Lord Jesus Christ because of His teaching on stewardship. Also, the Pharisees’ covetousness was the root of their hatred. They worshipped money, not God.

This is evident in their actions. Firstly, they bribed Judas to betray the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:14-15.) Secondly, they bribed the soldiers to hide the truth about the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 28:11-15.) Therefore, money was their priority, not the truth.

The sin of covetousness brings trouble to a family.

He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

Proverbs 15:27

Those covetous of the things that belong to others bring trouble into their families. Some people are willing to commit crimes because of covetousness. This sin brings problems to their family.

The covetousness of others also turned them into victims of deceptive “Get-rich-quick schemes.” This also brings trouble to their family.

20And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 22So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

Joshua 7:20-22

Achan coveted the things that did not belong to him. As a result, his covetousness brought trouble to his family.

The sin of covetousness can be avoided.

Realize your riches in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

True riches are never material but spiritual. Salvation makes us wealthier than the wealthiest person in the world. Our carnal nature focuses on material and temporal things. But if we look at our life through Scriptural truths, we’ll see how God has blessed us eternally through the salvation He gave us through Christ.

Stop comparing yourself with others.

Remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Because instead of appreciating what we have, we are complaining about the things we don’t have.

Be grateful.

Gratitude is appreciating what you have, while covetousness focuses on what others have. Count your blessings and be grateful for the things that God gave you.

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