How to Avoid Covetousness
If “philadelphia” is to continue amongst us we must eschew covetousness. Love is a giver and covetousness is a grabber. It is impossible to combine these two in one’s life. Until we learn to be content with what we have, we cannot love the brethren. The rivalries and jealousies amongst believers are on an alarming increase. At the church level, church rivalry is scary. We snatch members from other churches without apology. We rush to acquire wealth and properties just because others have them. We want the fame others are enjoying. We want wives and husbands like theirs. The progress of other people stirs up a demon of envy in us.
Within our churches the story is no different. Associate pastors want everything their Senior Pastors have. They want the pulpit because they think that they are better preachers and teachers than the Senior Pastors. Members are covetous and withhold their tithes and offerings from the Church. Senior Pastors are greedy of filthy lucre. The abuse of power and exploitation of members is the order of the day. The report of the Church amongst unbelievers is not good.
We must realize that we cannot enjoy certain privileges when it is not our time. Elisha did not enter the whirlwind (with the chariot and horses of fire) that took Elijah into heaven. The chariot and horses of fire parted the two men asunder.
2 Kings 2:11
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Elisha could not have joined the whirlwind and chariot because Elijah had finished his assignment and was ready to go to heaven. Elisha on the other hand was not ready for heaven. He had the wisdom to ask for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah and not the chariot from heaven. The chariot represented heavenly dignity and honor. Elijah was honored by God because he had completed his task. Elisha was yet to begin. If Elisha had joined the whirlwind (with the chariot) he would have been partaking in honor he did not deserve. Again the whirlwind would have taken him to heaven before he even began his assignment. Elisha would have gone to heaven instead of towards the river Jordan to begin his exploits with the mantle that fell to him.
It is important we realize that we cannot join certain chariots. These chariots separate us from others who have gone ahead of us. There are blessings you will not receive now because they are rewards God gives to those who have excelled in ministry. We must be humble enough to appreciate this fact.
Love is not covetous. In the early times of the Church, just like today, people were covetous when they saw others being blessed. They just wanted things but life is more than the acquisition of material things.
It is not what you get that is crucial but what you can use. There is no point in grabbing things only to be unable to use them.
A simple example can illustrate the folly of covetousness.
One evening during our teaching assembly, I gave a simple illustration of the folly of covetousness. I took a carrier bag from home and put a lady’s African long skirt with the matching top in it. The owner of this attire is my niece who lives with my family. She is a little lady. On the night in question I was teaching on the subject of covetousness. At a certain point during my teaching I called a lady from the congregation who is also smallish in structure and one of our protocol men who carries the physique of a giant. I told them that I was going to throw the carrier bag into the air and if either of them grabbed it, the person had to use the contents of the bag. I knew that the big protocol guy would catch it. When I threw the bag into the air he snatched it from the reach of the lady as I suspected. I then told him to open the bag and use the contents. When he opened it he discovered that he could not use the contents, because they were lady’s attire. Another problem was that they were too small to fit him even if he were a lady.
Covetousness may make us receive things we cannot use after all. Gehazi received the material things of Naaman the leper but I believe that he could not use them well. Elisha cursed him with leprosy and he could not have enjoyed the clothes he received from Naaman.
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver but he could not use the silver. He committed suicide and the money went to waste. He could not purchase the land he intended to use the money for because it was accursed money.
The answer to covetousness is to be content with what we have. Godliness with contentment is great gain. The key to living a life of contentment is the knowledge that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. Brotherly love (philadelphia) is only possible when there is no covetousness. The sons of Jacob could not have “philadelphia” because of jealousy and covetousness. In the love revolution we must remove covetousness from the Church.
After cautioning the Hebrews about the dangers of covetousness, the author of the book of Hebrews zeroed in on another love killer. This love killer is fear. In the same text of Hebrews 13:1-9 the author mentions other things we must watch in our pursuit of love. Let us be patient enough to explore some other issues this great author raised regarding the subject of brotherly love.
The Bible also warns us against covetousness in the book of Luke chapter 12: 15, after which Jesus taught on His famous parable of the rich fool to illustrate the dangers and consequences of covetousness.
13 ¶ And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?