Covetousness might be called “the sin that is most ignored.” The tenth commandment is the one that is normally skipped. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said of the thousands he had seen saved he never heard someone say they were saved from the sin of covetousness. LaSalle was a famous priest of the middle ages and he said this sin was never confessed to him.
The old Jewish saying that we are born into this world with hands grasping after everything we can obtain, but when we die our hands are wide open, with nothing in them understood the problem correctly.
A story is told of a peasant who murmured to a giant landholder of the unfairness of it all. Knowing the nature of men, the landholder promised to give the peasant all the land he could walk around in a whole day. The peasant, greedily trying to take in all the area possible, overexerted himself and dropped with a heart attack and died. He ended up with nothing.
Covetousness is a Debasing sin—it’ll turn you into someone else. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) It is a Deceiving Sin—usually the covetous person doesn’t recognize their problem. (1 Thessalonians 2:5) It is a Damning Sin—one to take seriously! (Ephesians 5:5)
Leaders especially must beware of falling prey to the lure of the temptation this sin offers. A leader's influence can be negated in a short time as others observe motives that are not acceptable. Covetousness belies the pretense and the posturing of goodwill and service. The one observing a covetous leader is soon concerned about the reason the leader may have to guide his followers in a certain direction. Questions that come to mind include those regarding whether the vision and the mission espoused by the leader are ultimately guided by his craving desire to accumulate things which he values but which may be of no value to his followers.
What is the remedy? Paul possibly saw that this was something of which his son in the faith should be aware when he said,
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1 Timothy 6:6-11 King James Version (KJV)
- Is contentment another word for self-denial?
- What would you say are some steps to withdrawal from the problem of covetousness?
- Do you think it is possible to be content when other leaders seem to have all the latest gadgets and fashions and fads?
- How can a leader maintain the image of success while denying himself of the luxuries some leaders see as necessities?
By Dr. Gayle Woods