Lying at the bottom of many personal and domestic struggles, arguments, tensions is one sin.
Many a spiritual ship is ripped open and sunk on the rocky spikes of this evil.
It is so common that it is almost never confessed nor feared nor shunned. But God hates it.
Several Bible words are translated “covet” or “covetousness.” In general, the words themselves mean: to fix the mind upon, to reach for anything, to be one who wishes more, to be a lover of silver.
In Romans 7:7 and 13:9, the Apostle in quoting the Ten Commandments (which condemns covetousness) uses the Greek original word “epithumeo.” This word is used not only to describe one’s lust toward material things but even of sexual desire, as in Matthew 5:28. Thus, this sin festers in the heart whenever one begins to look and long after something with a passion, or to set the heart upon something other than God and to go for it apart from God.
This desiring, reaching for material things be it clothes, money, property or whatever is stringently forbidden by God in Ephesians 5:3. This sin positively bars heaven to the guilty ones, verse 5. See also I Corinthians 6:9-10, noticing the company it keeps! The coveting heart may be religious, Ezekiel 33:31. Warned Jeremiah, “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit,” Jeremiah 6:13. Could this be true of affluent America?
A classic and tragic example of the workings of covetousness in a darkening heart is that of Judas, the betrayer of our Lord. How treacherous is this sin! The true facts about it are so often concealed! Let’s get these facts out into the light by studying Matthew 26:14-16.
I. THIS SIN TENDS TO GROW
So subtle is this evil at first, we might not notice it in ourselves, nor even in others close to us — at least, not at first. Note our text in Matthew 26 shows Judas going to the chief priests and offering to “sell” Jesus. Yet, in verse 22 at the Supper the disciples did not know what was in Judas’ heart.
As you look over your life, friend, do you find the tendency to complain and distrust when you are pinched financially? Do you forget God when things are easy? Is your faith softening, or growing? This sin is treacherous because the guilty one does not know his condition. See Revelation 3:17,18. The unsuspecting and darkening heart allows the evil seed to sprout into full growth. It does not reach satisfaction and quit. “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income,” Ecclesiastes 5:10.
II. IT INVOLVES AN EXCHANGE
Judas, with his mind set on the 30 pieces of silver (verse 15), did not at first realize the awfulness of giving up His Lord unto death. Later, the spectre of this exchange tormented him over the brink of self-murder.
Jesus Himself was confronted with this temptation, powerfully put. Satan showed him the glories of the world, in a compressed, intense moment of testing. “All this I will give you,” he said. Then, slipping in the price (for it involved the awful exchange) he added, “….if you will bow down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only,'” Mathew 4:8-10.
So it is, when the eye is upon what we want or have, what we lose is hidden. Study Luke 14:15-23. Covetousness is called idolatry, for it replaces God, Colossians 3:5. This was Achan’s sin as he saw certain things he longed for, Joshua 7:21.
Homes are harmed, even ruined, by dissatisfied, grasp1ng hearts. “The greedy bring ruin to their households,” Proverbs 15:27.
Serving God properly with our money requires clinging close to Him. He will likely lead us to give time and money enough so that we must, out of necessity, trust Him.
III. IT LEADS TO BONDAGE
Getting wrapped up in desires, aims, things of our earthly home and world is so easy! Covetousness is a creeping, stealthy, subtle thing. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions,” Luke 12:15.
See Judas’ life. His blackened heart is finally bloated with the evil. He now reaches for the money and sells his soul, actually seeking the opportunity to do evil, verses 14 and 16. Surely, at first he did not plan on going so far! But finally mad with the horrid appetite, he gulps the poison of sin, longing for his own destruction.
In Jesus’ parable, the Prodigal Son demands “Father, give me.” A later scene (Luke 15:16) shows the dejected, backslidden youth coveting (the actual, original word) even the husks which the swine were eating. This sin is malignant.
Two closing warnings are in order. 1) A covetous man may be poor. Not only the rich are guilty on this score. Regardless,”the love of money is the root of all (kinds of) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” To long for and reach for anything at the loss of the soul is tragic!
Here is a sin that needs to be confessed pointedly at the cross and buried there in the offered blood. Read Colossians 3:1-7 and I Corinthians 6:11.