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Read for This Week’s Study: Isa. 14:12–14, Eph. 5:5, Joshua 7, John 12:1–8, Acts 5:1–11, 1 Cor. 10:13.

The lesson this week takes up a challenging topic: the whole topic of the human propensity to covet, known as covetousness. An appropriate foundational passage from the Bible is this:

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” 1 Timothy 6:6–10 (NKJV).

Covetousness can be defined as an inordinate desire to have something you do not have, to the point it becomes a fascination that you act upon. Covetousness is often focused on money or wealth but may be focused on any number of other possibilities to include fame or even relationships.

Interestingly, in the Bible covetousness is often included in a list of deadly sins. For example, it appears as the last of the 10 Commandments, “thou shalt not covet…” In I Cor. 6:9, 10 it appears in a rather long list of deeds of the unrighteous that are not going to be in the Kingdom – “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (NJKV). Clearly covetousness is viewed as being a very bad thing primarily because it replaces loyalty to God with loyalty to something else, and, because of that, it drives humans to all kinds of nefarious activities.

There are a number of significant stories in the Bible that illustrate the danger and power of covetousness quite clearly:

  • Lucifer and the original sin — what drove Lucifer to try to contend against God in the first place if not covetousness?
  • Achan and the spoils of war.
  • Judas, who left the last supper and went and made a deal with the priests.
  • Ananias and Sapphira, a rather remarkable story!

Now some questions:

  • What might a person do to combat or even cure or overcome covetousness?
  • What might be the difference between a legitimate desire and covetousness?

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