4. The fourth test reveals a clear case of covetousness when the desire for substance and status is for self-exaltation. This is a desire to have certain things in order to be seen to be above other people, or to have accomplished more, and be superior to them. Pride joins hands with covetousness to create a longing for position and possessions in order that the possessor may feel especially satisfied and significant.
5. The fifth test finds covetousness when the person is driven by a passion for wanting more and still more of something. It may be that for many months the heart has been set on attaining some objective, or acquiring some possession, and now the longing has been met and the desired thing achieved. But very soon it fails to satisfy, emptiness and unease envelops mind and heart, and another objective quickly takes shape in the imagination. Through life the restless person lurches from scheme to scheme, project to project, possession to possession, never content, and always aiming forward. Life is energised by dreaming, anticipating, planning, achieving, gloating, and then returning to the beginning of the process. Always, the person must have something else; something more. Such a life is either immensely pleasurable, or burningly necessary, but it is altogether earthly and covetous. Do we always need more? Is this the real purpose of our quest for a new job or house or car or qualification?
A brief summary of tests will help at this point to determine whether our aims are right and valid.
- If the love of substance, status or possessions is the driving force and motivating factor in our lives, our aims are covetous.
- If these things are in practice the key to our happiness, the way to gain uplift, the chief source of relief, and the only answer to our problems, then our aims are covetous.
- If the pursuit of status and possessions is carried on at the expense of Christian service, our aims are covetous.
- If advancement is sought for self-exaltation and esteem from others, our aims are certainly covetous.
- If the desire for ‘more and better’ has secured such a grip on the heart, that we always need something more, and move restlessly from one accomplishment to another, then our aims are covetous.
Antidotes to covetousness
After reading these characteristics of covetousness we may wonder if anyone can legitimately seek promotion or advancement, because fallen nature is bound to intrude. However, there are biblical antidotes to covetousness, which now follow.
1. The first antidote to covetousness is to pray against it, and frequently. We particularly press this advice upon those who are given by God the responsibility of stewarding wealth, and also those who are placed in high positions. Believers must pray earnestly, honestly and self-searchingly for deliverance from the snare of covetousness, in the spirit of Paul’s warning, ‘O man of God, flee these things.’
. . . to be continued