What do you think of when you hear the word covetousness? For me, I always thought of it as greediness in a materialistic sense, with the sole purpose and desire to acquire wealth, property, and things just for self-gratification.
This is what the dictionary definition is:
“Covetous, greedy, acquisitive, grasping, avaricious means having or showing a strong desire for especially material possessions. Covetous implies inordinate desire often for another’s possessions.”
I never thought that I struggled with that in any way. Sure, I admired what others have and thought to myself it would be nice to have something like that or be blessed with the same privileges. But I never felt that my sole purpose in life was to acquire those things or that without them I would never truly be happy.
But reading through the book of Matthew recently, I saw a side of covetousness and materialism I did struggle with:
my selfish desire to hold on to
the possessions I had acquired.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. | Matthew 6:19-21
The key word that caught my attention while reading this was the word “store.” Store here refers to the desire to hold onto, accumulate, stockpile, hoard, etc. I had to think about that one long and hard.
Was I guilty of that?
With our recent move from Georgia back to Texas, we didn’t have relocation this time around. That meant no services for packing, moving, storing, or delivering to our new address. Everything had to be arranged ourselves.
I didn’t think of that as a huge deal until looking at the logistics of everything. We had to figure out in a short period of time where we would be moving to, if we needed an apartment first or directly move into a house, how much space we needed to store our belongings, if we needed external storage, what was essential to be moved, what could be left behind. Very quickly we realized that we wouldn’t be able to take everything with us, nor would it make sense to. We had a house full of furniture that would cost us more to transport and store than the cost of the furniture itself.
I was initially skeptical at first, thinking of all kinds of ways to make it happen so we wouldn’t have to sell our stuff. I soon realized how much I had an internal desire to hold onto the things that we purchased, thinking that it had some type of lasting value. The reality of it all was that in the end, all of these things would turn to dust, rot, or decay.
None of it would last forever.
There is a well known expression: “you’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” Meaning: nothing on earth will follow you into eternity. Sometimes we go through life with that mindset, we value and hold onto earthly possessions, thinking they have eternal value, not realizing they are just as temporal, fleeting, and transient as your own life.
So what’s the point of it all?
Is it wrong to have things and enjoy wealth?
God has blessed us materially and we are meant to enjoy it, but when it takes priority over His spiritual blessings is when it becomes a problem. I was reading a devotion recently that said this about avoiding obsessive accumulation:
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with wealth. God’s the one who generously gives people success with resources and money (Ecclesiastes 5:19). But when we become more concerned about the gifts rather than the giver, possessions become toxic and pointless (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Obsession with wealth ruins our relationship with God and with other people. God cares more about the condition of our hearts than the condition of our wallets. That’s why He shows us what’s best for us and our possessions.”
We made the decision to sell or give away all of our furniture in Georgia. Though we didn’t get back nearly what we paid for the furniture, it was awesome to see how we could help others with the blessings that God had given us. We were able to give some of it away to folks who didn’t have much, were going thru a hardship in life, or just needed it more than we did.
It was a liberating feeling, to be honest.
Even through the giving away of our possessions, it was an honorable thing before the Lord, and in the end His name was glorified even through that. Looking at the setup we have now, it’s not nearly as comfortable without the space and the furniture, and we often think how we will manage without it for the next few months, but one thing stays the same: God is always faithful, and He will never fail us regardless of our material possessions because He has blessed us so much more abundantly with a spiritual possession that can never be taken away.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. | 1 Timothy 6:6-10