HYMN: I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR
No covetous or greedy person shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Text: Exo 20:17; Prov 1:10-19
Covetousness and greed have remained serious challenges over time. These two vices have manifested in the lives of both the rich and the poor, the high and the low. David the king prayed to God to keep his hear from covetousness, Ps 119:36. Many believers manifest covetousness and greed under the guise of claiming whatsoever they desire by faith. The word “desire is noted to be common in the definitions of covetousness and greed. As children of God, we must always check our desires and ourselves and be sure that these desires are those that will be pleasing to God and that they are in line with the will of God for our lives.
Many Christians measure their level of spirituality by how affluent they are and so they go to any length to acquire material things just because they want to be like others. The word of God admonishes us that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses, Luke 12:15. We must daily look up to God as His dear children to meet our daily needs. He is our source, provider and our all in all. The Word of God instructs us to cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for us, 1 Pet 5:7. Moreover, Paul prayed for the Philippian Church that God will supply all their needs “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”, Phil 4:19. This, we can lay claim to as we meet the conditions of this prayer.
In this study, we shall examine the dangers in covetousness and greed and learn how to overcome them.
The objectives of this study are:
- To understand the meaning of covetousness and greed.
- To know the causes of covetousness and greed.
- To identify the ways covetousness and greed manifest.
- To examine the consequences of being covetous and greedy.
- To know how to overcome the challenges of covetousness and greed.
Q1. WHAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND BY COVETOUSNESS AND GREED?
Covetousness is defined in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as having or showing a strong desire to possess something especially something that belongs to somebody else. The NIV Bible dictionary defines covetousness as a strong, excessive, inordinate desire to have what belongs to another.
Greed is defined in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as “an excessive desire for food, especially when one is not hungry or an excessive desire for wealth, power, etc., for oneself without consideration for the needs of other people. One vice that clearly manifests in both cases is selfishness. As children of God, we should abhor what is evil, cleave to what is good; be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another, Rom 12:9-10.
A believer should neither be covetous nor greedy. We should appreciate God for what He has given us and trust Him for whatever we need instead of being covetous or greedy.
Q2. WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF COVETOUSNESS AND GREED?
The word of God specifically instructs us not to love the world nor the things that are in the world, 1 John 2:15. Covetousness and greed are of the world. The desire for the things of this world can never be satisfied. It is only in God that we can get true satisfaction. Some of the causes of covetousness and greed are as follows.
1.) Slothfulness, Prov 21:25-26.
Like other human beings, the slothful or lazy man has basic needs, which must be met for him to able to live an average life. However, because he is lazy and his hands refuse to labor, poverty comes on him as a bandit and scarcity as an armed man, Prov 6:11 NIV. In order to satisfy these wants, he covets greedily all the day long.
2.) Dissatisfaction with what one has and quest for that which belongs to another, 1 Tim 6:6-11.
The continuous urge to have more and more often leads to covetousness and greed. Some who have coveted after the worlds’ goods have erred from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. Contentment should be the way of life for all believers.
Q3. IN WHAT WAYS DO COVETOUSNESS AND GREED MANIFEST? GIVE PRACTICAL EXAMPLES.
Covetousness and greed can manifest in various ways. A few of these are highlighted below:
1.) Disobedience, 1 Sam 15:19
Covetousness and greed can lead to disobedience. In a bid to get things at all cost, people may choose to disobey God or constituted authority to satisfy their inordinate desires and affections. God instructed Saul to destroy the Amalekites and all that belongs to them, 1 Sam 15:3. As a result of covetousness and greed he disobeyed God by sparing the best of the sheep, and of the oxen and of the fatlings and the lambs and all that was good, 1 Sam 15:9a.
2.) Adultery, 2 Sam 11:2-4.
The word of God clearly warns in Exo 20:17 that no one should covet his neighbors’ wife. David coveted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Although David had many wives, he used his position as the king to forcefully take the woman and committed adultery with her. Many people today are regularly involved in adultery just because they covet other people’s spouses despite the fact that they are married. This could also lead to murder if not checked like the case of David and Uriah, 2 Sam 11:15.
3.) Theft, Josh 7:21
Theft can be a manifestation of covetousness and greed. Some people covet things which they cannot afford or is not within their reach at a given time. They resort to stealing the things just to satisfy their desires. Achan stole from the spoils of the city of Jericho. God had instructed the children of Israel to utterly destroy everything found in the city because they were accursed things. Achan saw among the spoils a good Babylonish garment and….and coveted them, took them and went and hid them in the ground. Believers should be careful at desiring anything their eyes behold (lust of the eyes). If this is not dealt with, it can lead to stealing.
4.) Falsehood, 2 Kings 5:20-21, Acts 5:1-10.
In a bid to get what they covet; some people may tell lies just to cover up. This is evident in almost every area of human endeavor. People tell lies about the price of goods they are selling. Workers falsify books in order to get some benefits that are not legally due them.
Gehazi in 2 Kings 5:20-21 went to meet Naaman without the knowledge of his master Elisha to collect some of the gifts Elisha had earlier refused to accept. Gehazi lied to Naaman that the man of God had instructed him to come and collect the gifts from him.
Also, in Acts 5:1-10 Ananias and Saphira connived to lie about the proceeds of the sale of their piece of land. We should be reminded that God sees and knows everything. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, Heb 4:13.
5.) Betrayal, Matt 26:14-16.
Covetousness and greed can make people betray friends, relations, colleagues, associates, etc. Many have sold out others just because of covetousness and greed. Judas betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ just for thirty pieces of silver. He had earlier shown signs of covetousness, John 12:4-6. Today many believers are still betraying the Lord Jesus Christ through compromise arising from covetousness and greed.
A child of God should not be greedy of filthy lucre neither should he be covetous, 1 Tim 3:3.
6.) Misuse of Authority, 1 Kings 21:2.
Covetous and greedy rulers and those placed in positions of authority can sometimes use their elevated positions to perpetrate these vices. They many forcefully demand and covet the things that belong to their subjects or subordinates to themselves. They do this because they believe no one can question their authority. In some cases, they can even go as far as eliminating the supposed “obstacle” to accomplish their aim.
King Ahab killed Naboth because of his piece of land, his inheritance, which he refused to sell to the king. Even though Ahab had so much land, covetousness and greed caused him not to be satisfied with all that he had. Many today set death traps for their victims to kill them because of these deadly vices, Prov 1:18-19.
Q4. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF COVETOUSNESS AND GREED?
There are grievous consequences of covetousness and greed, some of which may be eternal. These consequences include the following
A.) Curse, 2 Kings 5:25-27.
Covetousness and greed can attract a curse on someone. This was clearly exemplified in the life of Gehazi, Elisha’s servant. The man of God pronounced a curse on him and unto his seed forever.
B.) God’s Wrath, Jer. 6:11-13, 8:10, Micah 2:1-3
The Bible is replete of countless woes pronounced by the Lord on the covetous and greedy. We should beware of these vices because the result is doom.
C.) Chaos, Prov 15:27.
The Bible says that the one who is greedy for gain troubles himself. There is no peace in the house of the covetous and greedy person. The more his wealth increases, the more his sorrows and troubles overcome him until his end.
D.) Hinders Christian Growth, Ezek. 33:31; Matt 13:22.
A heart full of covetousness and greed will not find a place for the word of God. The word of God he hears will not take root because hi heart is going after covetousness. In addition, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches will choke the word he hears, thereby becoming unfruitful.
E.) Eternal Damnation, 1 Cor 6:10; Eph 5:5.
The covetous and the greedy cannot make the kingdom of God. They have no inheritance in God’s kingdom. They are eternally damned and their eternal destination is hell.
Q5. HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?
1.) Trusting God for our needs, Phil 4:19.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, Ps 24:1. Our God owns all and He can supply all our needs when we ask Him. We should trust in His divine provision rather than being covetous or greedy.
2.) Being Content, 1 Tim 6:6; Phil 4:11; Heb 13:5.
In whatever position or situation, we find ourselves, we must learn to live a life of contentment. We should realize that God knows all that pertains to us and He has assured us that He will perfect all that concerns us, Ps 138:8. Let our lives be without covetousness and be content with such things as we have for our God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us.
3.) Walking in the Spirit, Gal 5:16-17.
When we walk in the spirit then we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Our interests and desires should please God at all times. We should set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth, Col 3:2. For where our treasures are there our hearts will be also, Matt 6:21.
4.) Avoid Bad Company, 1 Cor 5:11, 15:33
The company we keep has a great influence on our behavior and desires. If we keep company with covetous and greedy people, we may be tempted to imbibe their ideologies and become like them. We have been warned not to keep company with evil doers even if such are so- called brothers.
Daily Living Application
The Christian must live a life devoid of covetousness and greed. Our God is the creator of all things. He knows our needs and He can meet us at every point of our need. Therefore, we should be content with that which we have and believe God to meet our needs as they arise.
“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”.
Daily Devotional Guide
Monday: Cause of covetousness and greed.
Tuesday: Cause of covetousness and greed.
1 Tim 6:6-11
Wednesday: Effects of covetousness and greed.
2 Sam 11:2-4; 1 Sam 15:19
Thursday: Effects of covetousness and greed.
2 Kings 5:20-21; Acts 5:1-10; Josh 7:21
Friday: Effects of covetousness and greed.
1 Kings 21:2; Matt 26:14-16
Saturday: Overcoming covetousness and greed.
Phil 4:11, 19; 1 Tim 6:6; Heb 13:5; Gal 5:16-17