Summary: Part 4 in series on restoring the joy in the Christian life. This message focuses on thankfulness. Suitable for Thanksgiving. Expanded outline.


Part 4: Developing an attitude of gratitude

Bob James of Paint Rock, Texas, had a problem with stinging ants in his yard. He laid a small portion of poison around their mound. Thinking the tiny granules of poison were food, the ants began to pick them up and carry them throughout the colony. Bob returned later to see how well the poison was working. Hundreds of the stinging ants were carrying the poison down into their mound. Then he noticed a hole in the circle of poison. Some of the poison was moving the opposite way away from the mound.

Some smaller, non-stinging ants had found this “food” and were stealing it from their ant neighbors. Thinking they were getting the other ants’ treasure, they unwittingly poisoned themselves.

When we see some people with more or better than we have, we must beware. The hunger to beg, borrow, or steal our way into what is theirs may poison us spiritually, and destroy our joy.

(Illustration by Bob James of Paint Rock, Texas. Quoted in sermon Watch What You Want, by David Holwick. Sermon Central)

Open your Bibles this morning and turn with me please to Exodus, chapter 20 and verse 17. ...

- Read Exodus 20:17

For the past several weeks, we have been looking at ways to restore the joy that Jesus promised to bring into the hearts and lives of those who follow Him. Last week we saw one of the items that will rob us of our joy, “Wrong Priorities.” Today we see another item that will poison our spiritual lives and rob us of the joy God promised, covetousness.

If you remember, after God brought the Israelites out of bondage, after He gave them their freedom, He promised to carry them into a better land. He said, “I will carry you into a land flowing with milk & honey. In that land you will live in houses and subdivisions you didn’t build. In that land, you will enjoy vineyards you never tended and harvest crops you never planted.

Sounds like a good deal to me. To move into houses with no mortgage payments. To enjoy yards you didn’t sod.

God said, “I’m going to give you all of this. But here’s the catch, you will never enjoy this land, you will never know joy, even with all of this stuff I give you, if your heart is wrong. So God gave His people the 10 Commandments to make sure His people guarded their hearts and enjoyed all He gave His children.

After giving the other 9 commandments, God said, “Listen, not only don’t I want you to do these things, I don’t even want you to covet what other people have. It will lead you into sin, it will destroy Our fellowship, and it rob you of your joy.

My friends, covetousness will steal your joy. The desire to have what another person has will steal your joy in a way nothing else will.

Have you ever seen a child, a toddler, sitting in the middle of the floor, with toys scattered all around Him? Have you ever seen that child playing happily, until another child walks by carrying a toy? All of sudden, what he has isn’t enough, it isn’t good enough. He’ll often reach toward the other child’s toy, say “Mine,” and then begin crying because the other child has something he doesn’t.

My friend, what is true with children is also true with adults. Desiring what another person has, what she owns, will destroy your joy. That’s why God warns in verse 17, “Do not covet.”

Oh my friend, coveting will destroy your contentedness. It will destroy your peace and rob you of your joy.

Do not covet. Do not covet:

1. A person’s possessions - It is amazing how many things other people have, that we want for ourselves. We see them with anew car and we want that. We see them with a new house and we want that. We see them with a boat, or large screen TV, or whatever, and we want what they have. When we begin that, all of a sudden the TV we have and were grateful for when we got it, isn’t good enough anymore. The joy is taken out of what we have. ...

> Ecclesiastes 5:10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

2. A person’s People - God said, “Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.” It is amazing the people in other people’s lives, we covet. How often do you desire the children another family has, instead of your own? How often do you desire the spouse someone else has, instead of your own? How often do you desire the parents or the family another person has, instead of your own?

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