Summary: The most common sin in our modern world is covetousness. What is it and how can we avoid it?
Intro: The most common sin in our modern world is covetousness. Covetousness is defined as an intense desire for success no matter what the cost. It has also been defined as that sinful desire to attain your dreams and goals without relying upon God for assistance.
According to the original Ten Commandments of God, covetousness was to be avoided, being the 10th commandment in Exodus 20:17.
The root cause of covetousness is the love for money and possessions. Paul would tell Timothy that he should flee from covetousness and replace it with godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness (I Timothy 6:10-11).
Let us examine some examples of covetousness and how to overcome this great sin.
1. Jesus Himself Warned Against Covetousness (Matthew 6:24-34).
A. Jesus first reminded us that God should be our only master (vs. 24).
B. Jesus then reminded the people that God cared most for mankind over the animal and plant kingdoms (vs. 25-30).
C. Jesus, in order for the people to cease from covetousness told them that God would supply their needs, therefore, they should not be overly concerned where their next meal, drink or change of clothing would come (vs. 31).
D. Jesus further warned that as believers in God, we should not act like the rest of the world, and it was unbelievers who were consumed with covetousness (vs. 32).
E. Jesus told the people that God should always be first and foremost in their minds and hearts, since they were already first in His (vs. 33).
F. Jesus concluded by reminding the people that what happens tomorrow, you have no control over, but God does (vs. 34).
2. God Has Given us Examples of the Destructive Nature of Covetousness. (Misc scripture references).
A. Achan, in Joshua 7:20-26, coveted and took possessions from Jericho in disobedience to God's command. He took a Babylonish garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold 50 shekels in weight. Because of his sin, many Israelites lost their lives in the battle of Ai, and the nation had to strive harder with their enemies since it now appeared that God had abandoned them. Achan lost his life, along with his family.
B. Gehazi, the servant of the prophet Elisha in II Kings 5:20-27, was guilty of covetousness. Naaman was healed by Elisha and as he left, Gehazi pursued after him and required payment of him for the services of Elisha. This was not a command of God, nor was it the instructions of Elisha, it was his sin. Because of his sin, Gehazi was struck with leprosy, white as snow.
C. The people of Ezekiel's day in Ezekiel 33:31-32. God shared how they heard the words of the prophet, but that they would not apply them to their lives. Ezekiel was like a rock star to them, and they were willing to hear, but not to act on what Ezekiel shared or listen. Because of the sin of the people, famine came to the land in Ezekiel 34.
D. Balaam in Number 22:21-31 also coveted. He was promised by the King of Moab anything that he wanted if he would curse the Israelites since he was afraid they would come and take his kingdom. The Israelites had just defeated the Amorites and Moab was desperate. Balaam refused Moab, but in turn he devised a plan where he could have anything he wanted by pretending to serve God, but rather than that he benefited monetarily from his practice. Peter would later share about Balaam's sin in II Peter 2:14-15, and Jude in Jude 11.
3. God Does Give Us A Remedy Against Covetousness In His Word (Misc scripture references).
A. Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 4:19, that God would supply all their need, which was salvation through Christ Jesus. All that the world gives is temporary, but what God gives is eternal. Salvation brings us into a relationship with God. That relationship leads you into dependence upon God. Dependence upon God leads you to pray for what you need and want, stopping you from covetousness.
B. In order for us to appreciate what we have and be content, James reminds us from where all that we have and all that we are comes, from God above in James 1:17.
C. We should also understand that God will reward you as you live for Him and work for Him. In Ecclesiastes 3:13, and 5:19, we learn that after working, what we are blessed with is ours, but we should remember that what we are and have are gifts from God Himself.
Conclusion: Covetousness is ruining the lives of many people. It is keeping unbelievers from coming to God.
Covetousness is also ruining the testimony of believers since they do not live for God and do not show the example of trusting in God for what they need.
You too can avoid the sin of covetousness, put God first in your life and always read God's word and obey it each day.