Sin is the most universal problem in the world. Regardless of what color, age or gender a person is, the influence of sin affects every person’s life. We as Christians are constantly battling against sin, but are there secret sins that lie dormant and at times become our greatest struggle? Every person can be resistant to the temptation of sin, but without diligent watchfulness can grow vulnerable to sin and allow it to rule as master in their lives. Paul said, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey”; either we will be obedient to God or the devil (Romans 6:16). Our goal in life is to be forthcoming regarding sin within our hearts by repenting and confessing to these sins to our heavenly Father.

The goal this article is to draw special attention to the sin of covetousness. The definition of the root word covet, means to yearn for, crave, and have one’s heart set on a certain object (New Oxford American Dictionary). We may ask, “What does this sin have to do with Christians?” Covetousness is a sin that is rampant in society. It is the sin of allowing material possessions and their attainment to supersede everything else. The sin of covetousness is rarely mentioned as being a failure of Christians. It was said by one Catholic priest that, even though he had heard every other sin in the catalogue to be confessed, he had failed to ever hear a confession for the sin of covetousness. Our attitudes against more heinous sins, such as sexual immorality or drug abuse, will be more easily seen within our daily walks, but our stance against covetousness is all but invisible. Have we become numb to the sin of covetousness? Do we continue to stuggle against it, or have we allowed it to seep into our culture and homes without notice?

The sin of covetousness is not new to the 21st century, but has affected every generation. Was not the tenth and final commandment given by God, “Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exodus 20:17)? The sin of Achan that caused the defeat of the Israelites at Ai was because his coveting the mantle, silver, and gold taken from Jericho (Joshua 7:20-21). Covetousness again reared its head in the division of the Israelite kingdom during the reign of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was asked to simply reduce the taxes that Solomon, his father, had placed upon the people, but wanting more than what his father had, he increased the taxes and thus caused the division of the kingdom (1 Kings 12:1-24). In each of these stories we have seen the great effect that covetousness had upon a person’s life. Achan and his entire family were stoned for their disobedience to God because of their covetous hearts. Rehoboam was stripped of being the king of all the tribes of Israel and he devastated a once beautiful kingdom given over to the work of the Lord. The sin of covetousness in the hearts of men is no laughing matter throughout history.

The sin of covetousness did not stop with Old Testament history, but it continued into the time of the New Testament. In the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus did not say that mankind “could possibly have two masters”, or “could divide their time between two masters”, but He said that mankind is unable to serve both God and wealth. Jesus placed the sin of covetousness in the spotlight as a continual struggle even for those under the New Covenant. Why then do we rarely hear of Christians struggling with this sin?

The United States is arguably one of the greatest countries in this world, but at the same time it is a country that encourages its citizens to live above their means and live like their neighbors. The American dream inspires us to achieve the highest possible gains within our lifetime. There is nothing wrong with Christians earning money to provide for their families, but in many cases when covetousness is allowed into the home, the family begins to become forsaken and eventually divorced for the achievement of material wealth. If we are not careful the American dream can be our downfall. Kenneth Chumbley quotes this in his commentary on Matthew 6:24 -

“Our materialistic civilization ought to be well aware of the bewitching power of money and possessions, but acquisitiveness has become so much a part of the air we breathe that we lack the distance necessary for a proper critique. We piously affirm that we have chosen to serve God, not mammon, but in our daily life it is mammon that sets our priorities and determines our choices. We would like to show a more bountiful eye toward the poor, but we cannot, because we need so much for ourselves. We plan to be more charitable in the future, but at the moment there are too many things we have to buy. We work overtime or at a second job rather than spend time with our children, because there is so much that we want to get for them.” (Douglas Hare, quoted on pg. 128-129)

As you read and evaluate the above quote, ask yourself, “How many of the same excuses are used within my own home?”

Covetousness is a sin that does not discriminate on the basis of income level. It does not matter the amount of money brought into a home; we can all be guilty of coveting. The very reason Jesus gave this warning was to give its simple solution – “Do not worry” (Matthew 6:25-34). God has shown mankind through His creation that He cares for all of His followers. God does not allow us to witness the beauty of the lilies of the field only to forget the greater point that if He clothes them, “will He not much more clothe you” (Matthew 6:28-30)? He desires to clothe us far better, but we must be willing to seek His kingdom and righteousness above all other things. The sin of covetousness deters us from this goal by keeping us from seeking the things above.

We need to no longer allow this sin to run rampant in our lives. The sin of covetousness must be repented of and turned away from just like all the rest of our sins. We need to never underestimate the power that this one sin may have in our lives, but we must learn that the power of God is greater. If we will only acknowledge this problem and remember to struggle diligently against it, then we can truly keep covetousness from ruling our lives. Let us not become slaves of covetousness, but slaves of righteous through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.