Thursday, February 20, 2014


I've been thinking more about what I wrote earlier this week (see God Provides).  I briefly mentioned jealousy, saying:
As I talk about my life I think about the many people who might get jealous of all that we have.
I think about the many...
  • who don't have the income or financial resources that we do.
  • who live in crowded or noisy or unsafe places.
  • who are unemployed or underemployed.
  • whose family situations are difficult.
  • who are constantly lonely.
I consider
  • refugees
  • those living in slavery
  • the ones who suffer with constant pain or physical or mental illness.
  • the desperately poor.
I also think about
  • those whose reputations are tarnished because of past offenses or rumors.
  • those who are hiding (or hiding behind) lies and addictions.
  • those who are tormented by spiritual (demonic) forces beyond their understanding.
  • those living under threats or abuse.
  • the ones whose rulers are unjust, cruel, corrupt.
And especially
  • those who don't know Jesus and his total forgiveness.
As I think of these people, I ask myself if it's bad for them to be jealous. 
  • Is it bad for them to want the same advantages I have?  
  • Isn't it good for them to long, to yearn, to deeply desire to move from where they're at to a new place, to a safer, healthier, and generally "better" situation?  
And I'll even go so far as to ask -
  • Is it wrong for them to "covet" what I have?
Of course, coveting is a trap because it has no limits.  Once I start wanting more there doesn't seem to be any end to it.  For more on that truth see Elizabeth Norland's post here.

Even so, I'm thinking of these things (above) as I continue my preparations for preaching this coming Sunday.  I'm looking at an outline with a "message synopsis" and "talking points" that was put together by the "network" of church leaders that meet about every four months or so to sketch out ideas for preaching themes.  We're entering a series on the Ten Commandments, counting back from #10 "You shall not covet... anything that belongs to your neighbor," and ending with the first commandment right around Easter time.

This first message of the series, this "tenth" commandment--it's got me a bit stymied.  I'm stuck a bit as I consider the long list of people I know who are truly in need.  Does the commandment against coveting apply to them?  Or does it only apply to those who already have "enough."

It's interesting to note that one of the first things the Holy Spirit did when He came to live among us was to take away some of the inequality that can provoke jealousy, envy and covetousness.  The book of Acts says "there was not a needy person among them."  (And, of course, the prophets often speak against those who jealously hang on to the lion's share of the wealth.)

So, I ask:
  • Is some of what I have actually that which rightfully belongs to the family of God instead of to me personally?  
  • Is my desire to hang on to my middle class status a symptom of a deep seated unchallenged covetousness within me?  
  • And, as I consider others around me and around the world, is my relative wealth the cause of covetousness for some?  
  • Am I causing others to stumble?  See Mark 9:42-49

Please pray for me as I continue to pray and study.  I'll plan to write more on this subject as I prepare to preach this Sunday.

The video above is from a blog by Elizabeth Norland.
She wrote a extensive piece entitled "Covetousness--Rampant!"
Highly recommended!

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