...Come and hear the message...and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Ezekiel 33:30-31
When Ahab, the king of Israel, saw the vineyard of a poor man whose name was Naboth, he forgot that he was wealthy and had many vineyards, but went home and sulked. His wife fixed it for him by plotting the murder of Naboth. With Achan, covetousness led to theft; with David it led to adultery; with Ahab it led to murder. "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or lands, or properties. You shall not covet anything that belongs to another." Strong words, but so necessary for life in the 21st century.
The man who allows himself to covet what belongs to another hasn't learned the lesson Jesus strove to teach when he said, "...A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). Covetousness and contentment are in direct opposition to each other. Jesus taught that we are to learn to trust God for our needs‑‑not look greedily upon what our neighbor has. "Give us this day our daily bread," Jesus taught us to pray. "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances," wrote Paul to the Philippians, and then he followed by telling why he could learn to be content, because he said, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:11,19).
What governs your life? Covetousness or contentment? Do you live by giving or grabbing? May I tell you of a man who lived the first half of his life by the principle of grabbing, and he almost died of it; then he learned to live by the principle of giving.
As a young man John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was as strong and husky as a farm hand. One biographer says, "When he entered business he drove himself harder than any slave was ever driven by the whip of a taskmaster."
At the age of 33, he had made his first million. By age 43, he controlled the largest business in the world. By age 53, he was said to be the richest man on earth, but he traded his health and happiness for the title, "world's richest man!" He had an income of a $1,000,000 a week, but his digestion was so poor he could only eat crackers and milk. Not only was he one of the world's richest but he was also one of the world's most hated men. He was hanged in effigy. Bodyguards protected him day and night.
A nervous condition caused his hair to drop out. He couldn't sleep and feared death. At age 53, he did an about face. Just what happened isn't quite clear, but he discovered that Jesus was right when he said, "A man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses."
Learning that it is better to give than receive, John D. Rockefeller began to give away the funds he had accrued, and the man who was ready to die at age 53 lived to be 98.
Covetousness or contentment? Which is it, friend, in your own life? If you honestly find yourself in the debit column of life, realize that real contentment will be found in life only by being in a right relationship with your heavenly Father, who alone is able to meet every need in your life. Giving, not grabbing, has always been God's formula for a life of meaning and purpose.
Remember, it was God who set the example Himself by giving His only son that we might have life. Thank God there is a solution to the age-old problem of covetousness.
Resource Reading: Jeremiah 6:13-15.