Moving Beyond Covetousness to Contentment

Woldumar Nature Center (Lansing, Michigan USA) Photo by: Mark J. Booth

Discontentment is found everywhere, including our own hearts.  People are discontent with their marriages, with their jobs, with their health, with their relationships, as well as their possessions.  The root of discontentment is covetousness.  Covetousness is defined as the inordinate desire to have something.  It is also defined as the desire to have something that belongs to another.

Covetousness is a sin that creates a warped view of God.  We feel that God has cheated us out of something.  Satan used this approach with Eve when he told her that God was wrong to withhold the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve coveted the fruit and ate it.  The tenth commandment says: “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’s gives this commandment for two reasons.  First of all, God hates covetousness because it places the coveted object above Him, which is a form of idolatry.  It also causes us to have the wrong view of His person and blessings. “For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire,and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” (Psalm 10:3)

Secondly, covetousness brings harm to us and to those around us.  The Bible teaches us that covetousness leads to:

  • injustice: “And they covet fields, and take them by violence;and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.” (Micah 5:2)
  • harm to ourselves: “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
    (1 Timothy 6:9)
  • departure from the faith: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
  • many sorrows-See the above verse
  • family problems: “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house;”
    (Proverbs 15:27)

Covetousness is clearly a problem many of us face.  The solution to this problem is having a spirit of contentment.  The secret of a growing, joyful Christian life is being content in our relationship with God in spite of the circumstances.  One person defined contentment as: “Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness.”  How do we go from a spirit of covetousness to a spirit of contentment?

We move beyond covetousness to contentment when:

1. We know that our Heavenly Father will take care of us.  Covetousness says: “I want something beyond what God gives me.”  Contentment says: “My Heavenly Father loves me and He takes care of all of my needs.” “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” (Matthew 6: 31-32)

2. We know that God is with us even in the most difficult situations we face.  Covetousness looks at others and thinks that they have a better situation than we have.  Contentment doesn’t look at others, but looks to God.  God is with us.  What more do we need?  “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
(Hebrews 13:5)

3. We focus on our spiritual lives above all else.  A covetous person focuses upon the physical realm.  He doesn’t make his spiritual life a priority.  Jesus reminded His hearers; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)  A contented person understands that in this life we will have difficulties, but he knows that life is more than this material world.  His desires are focused upon his soul and his relationship with God.

4. We give God all of our burdens.  A covetous person attempts to find security through their own efforts.  They always feel that there is something missing in their life to have total security.  A contented person gives all of their cares and burdens to the Lord.  He is their security. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Our Heavenly Father has blessed us beyond what we will ever know or understand.
“Dear Father, thank you for your many blessings.  Help me to see you in every circumstance in my life.  Help me to trust you to meet all of my needs.  May your presence, love, and provision be the focus of my daily life.  Thank you for adopting me into your family.  Amen.”

Why Do I Complain So Much?

Have you ever studied the Word of God; and God brought great conviction upon your heart?  Yesterday, while I was studying Jeremiah, God convicted me of something that I hadn’t thought about in a while.

The Book of Jeremiah is full of contrasts, disappointments, tears, God’s judgment, God’s love and future prophecy.  In Jeremiah 20, Jeremiah experiences forty lashes from a whip.  He also is tortured throughout the night in a public setting.  He is ridiculed and hated because of his proclamation of God’s Word.

While studying this portion of scripture,  I became convicted about my life.  “Have I ever suffered like Jeremiah?”  “Why do I complain so much?”    I was deeply convicted that I often fall into the trap of a complaining spirit.  I complain about circumstances, demands upon my time, people, the weather and many other matters.  How can I enjoy God’s presence and complain at the same time?

God knows that  many of us struggle with a complaining heart.  He tells us “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”  (Philippians 2:14,15) My complaining spirit not only affects my relationship with God, but also with others.  How can I minister to others about God’s love, wisdom, and faithfulness, when inside my heart, I have a complaining spirit?

Paul understood the antidote to a complaining spirit when he wrote these words while in prison. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.   I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11,12) Paul didn’t complain because he knew that God had given unto him all that he needed for his present happiness.  Paul had the presence of God!

When I look at what others have suffered or are suffering, why should I complain?  My complaining spirit is a sign of selfishness.  It is also a sign that I am not content in all that I have in Jesus Christ.

“Dear Lord, thank you for convicting me of my complaining spirit.  In your Word, I see so many who followed you without complaining.  They suffered greatly for you and your cause.  Thank you for their testimony that shows me that I can live my life without complaining.  Help me, to see your presence in every circumstance, every task, and every social encounter.  Thank you for your loving-kindness in convicting me of this sin.  Amen”

I Will Never Leave You (The Presence of God in the Dark Times)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (By Permission)

Nineteen years ago, I said goodbye to my father.  He had  suffered a stroke and I returned to the States to see him one last time.  He probably recognized me, but he couldn’t communicate with me.  My heart was heavy as I returned to Portugal. I would never  see me father again.  My father didn’t leave me by choice, but he was gone.  I miss my father greatly.

In life, we all face separation from one that has loved us.  This separation is painful; however, there is One who will never leave us.  Our Heavenly Father is always with us.  Hebrews 13:5 says: ” Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  God is with us in the good times and He is with us in dark times.  How does His presence affect our lives?

God’s presence gives us a contented heart in dark times. The tendency in life is to complain about everything.  We want more.  We want it faster.  We want it our way.  When things don’t happen the way we desire, we become bitter and complain.  Our lack of contentment is saying that God is doing a poor job of taking care of us.

Contentment means that we find our joy and happiness in a right relationship with our Living Lord.  In spite of the tough times, we know that He is right there with us.  He will not leave us.  He will walk with us through any valley.  As the Psalmist says: “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

God’s presence gives us strength in the dark times. The Word of God informs us that Our Heavenly Father will never leave us. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper. ” (Hebrews 13:6) The dark times in this life weaken us spiritually, emotionally and even physically.  We may feel like quitting.   God’s presence gives us strength to carry on.  God told Paul: “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (Hebrews 13:6) Our weakness says to God:  “I need your strength.”  God will respond.

God’s presence gives us courage in the dark times. Dark times can bring out the coward in us.  We become fearful of people. We become fearful of the future.  We become fearful of failure.  Where do we find the courage to move forward.  “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  (Hebrews 13:6) God’s presence and love will cast out the fear that so easily torments us.

As a child,  I developed a fear of crossing the street.  The one street that brought out the most fear was Woodward Ave. This street had three lanes of traffic each way.  However, when my Dad had my hand the fear dissipated.  Likewise,  no matter how difficult a road we travel, Our heavenly Father has us by the hand.

My Dad has left, but my Heavenly Father will never leave me.  He is with me in the good times and the dark times.  Yes, the clouds of darkness may dim my view of God, but He is still with me.  May I lean upon Him in the darkest night so that I may see his presence in midst of the darkness.

-Mark J. Booth-