WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 14, 2021
TOPIC: BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS
BY T. O. BANSO
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5 New King James Version).
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines covetousness as “a strong desire after the possession of worldly things.” Similarly, Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines it as “an intense desire to possess something (or someone) that belongs to another person.” It adds that covetousness springs from “a greedy self-centeredness and an arrogant disregard of God’s law.”
Covetousness is one of the things God forbids in the Ten Commandments. The last of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17 New King James Version). Deuteronomy 5:21 says a similar thing. Also, Romans 7:7 refers to the commandment not to covet.
Despite the prohibition of covetousness by God, this sin is common among human beings, including some who profess to be Christians. They manifest a strong desire after the possession of worldly things and an intense desire to possess what belongs to others. Often, people don’t consider covetousness as a serious sin. It is considered a lesser sin than murder, fornication, adultery, etc. But covetousness is a sin that is serious enough to take anyone to hellfire.
Colossians 3:5-7 says, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them” (New King James Version). Did you see covetousness in that list? Those who engage in covetousness will not escape eternal punishment on Judgment Day.
Covetousness is a serious sin; don’t condone it in your life or you risk going to hellfire. Ephesians 5:5-6 says, “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (New King James Version). Did you see covetousness again?
Often, the sin of covetousness does not manifest in someone’s life alone. It comes with other sins. Covetousness can lead to hate, stealing, lying, or murder. Therefore, anyone who is covetous must deal with it swiftly. He must repent of it quickly before it leads him to commit other sins people often regard as serious. Covetousness is also a serious sin.
Anyone could be guilty of covetousness. A pastor could be guilty just as a church member could be. A leader could be guilty and the followers could be also. A supposedly successful person could be covetousness just as the person yet to have a breakthrough could. Both the rich and the poor could be guilty of it. In other words, one could be wealthy and still be covetous of what belongs to other persons because one lacks contentment.
The apostle Paul says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:6-10 New King James Version).
Avoid covetousness. The author of the book of Hebrews says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5 New King James Version).
Examples of covetous people in the Bible are Gehazi, Achan, Judas Iscariot, the rich fool, and the rich young ruler. Gehazi coveted the gifts that his boss, the prophet Elisha, had rejected from Naaman after he had been healed and Gehazi lied that Elisha sent him to collect the gifts because he had some guests.
2 Kings 5:21-23 says, “So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, ‘Is all well?’ And he said, ‘All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’ So Naaman said, ‘Please, take two talents.’ And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him’” (New King James Version)
When he returned with the gifts, he went to hide them. He also lied to Elisha that he didn’t go anywhere. Consequently, Elisha declared that the leprosy of Naaman would cling to him and his descendants forever. This was the price he paid for covetousness. He missed a great opportunity of succeeding Elisha in the ministry and, possibly, receive a double portion of his spirit as Elisha had received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah.
Achan’s covetousness was exposed after he had caused Israel to be defeated by the people of Ai. Following his exposure, he confessed what he had done. “And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it” (Joshua 7:20-21 New King James Version). Consequently, all Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.
Judas betrayed Jesus Christ because of thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-15). Before then, he had been stealing from the Ministry’s purse, which had been entrusted to him (John 12:6). In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus spoke the parable of the rich fool to illustrate covetousness. He said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (verse 15 New King James Version). He said someone who laid up treasure for himself and was not rich toward God was a fool (verse 21).
The rich young ruler also showed a strong desire after the possession of worldly things. He was covetous so he could not obey Jesus’ instruction to go and sell all that he had, distribute it to the poor so as to have treasure in heaven; and then come to follow Him. He preferred his wealth to eternal life. He left Jesus sorrowful because he was very rich and unable to obey Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23).
Ananias and Sapphira were also covetous. The couple died the same day because they lied to the Holy Spirit about the amount they sold their possession. They gave part of the money to the apostles, pretending that they gave all the proceeds of the sale (Acts 5:1-11). They didn’t need to lie because the property belonged to them. They could have given whatever amount they could give. But they wanted to be seen as having given all the money from the sale of their possessions as others had done while still keeping part of the proceeds to themselves. However, the Holy Spirit exposed them so that they wouldn’t pollute the move of God so early.
Beware of covetousness. Paul called it idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (verse 2). The psalmist prays in Psalm 119:36-37, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (New King James Version). Don’t covet worthless things such as silver, Babylonian garments, money, and different worldly things that can make you miss eternity with God.
Like Paul, learn to be content with what you have. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 New King James Version).
Furthermore, as the Bible warns in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, don’t associate with a covetous Christian just as you avoid a Christian who is sexually immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler, a drunkard, or an extortioner. Beware of covetousness.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of covetousness, which is idolatry. Forgive me, Father. Holy Spirit, help me to discipline myself and not be covetous. I will be content with what I have in Jesus’ name. I will not covet worthless things that will make me forfeit the Kingdom of heaven.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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