Isn't it sad to think that before this day is ended, some
young lady will sell herself for silver, some business man
will plan a dishonest deal for some extra dollars, some poor
man will decide that stealing will be worth it, some greedy
person will kill another person for a material object, some
TV evangelist will offer the public prosperity and then
invite them to keep sending in their contributions to
Isn't it sad indeed that we live in a land of Enrons,
Murdoffs, scams, bribes, laundering, payola, and deceptions
of all kinds for the sake of money?
Did you know that word “covet, covetous, and
covetousness” are found about 40 times in the Bible?
The last of the Ten Commandments is: “You shall
not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your
neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female
servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything else that
is your neighbor's” (Exodus 20:17).
other commandments deal with actions, but this one with
others are about behavior, but this one is about our mind.
‘Don’t Steal’ means keep your hands off.
‘Don’t Covet’ means don’t even think about it” (J.
Covetousness is like a thief because it can sneak up on you
before you realize it.
As a thief can break into just about anyone's house,
so covetousness can break into just about everyone's heart!
That's what our reading tried to show this morning.
Think about it: Covetousness was the first sin in the
Garden of Eden.
you can be god!
Do your own thing!
Make yourself happy!”
was the first sin as the children of Israel entered into the
go ahead and take those things, it's just a few items!”
It was the first sin towards Jesus' death.
Judas, you can not only speed up the kingdom but also make a
little profit for yourself!”
And it was the first sin in the Jerusalem church.
Ananias and Sapphira, keep some of the money for yourself!
Who will ever know?”
comes from a Greek word meaning “to reach beyond what has
been appointed for a person,” so that when our desires yearn
for things beyond our fair share, we are being covetous.
Someone else described covetousness in this way: “It is an
excessive desire that compromises convictions to gain
something you want.
It is also an envious desire for what someone else
has ... for what they have to be yours” (J. Shirley).
a thief who uses craftiness to gain his goods unlawfully, so
the devil also uses deceitful covetousness to gain people's
souls as well.
let's look at seven ways that covetousness can steal in our
main ideas come from Bro. Mac Layton in his book This
Grace Also (Chattanooga: O’Neal Publishing, 1964).
First of all covetousness
steals God from our hearts.
Colossians 3:5 encourages us: “Therefore, put to
death your members which are on the earth: fornication,
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which
a play in which an escaped lion takes the place of a shaggy
dog by his master's armchair.
The master affectionately runs his fingers through
the lion's mane several times before realizing that he has a
Don't we act like that sometimes with regard to our sinful
treat them as pets rather than treating them as killers.
don't suspicion that such sins can not only deaden us but
also cause us to lose all spiritual sensitivity (Packer).
apostle Paul is saying in essence: “As those whose
citizenship and prospects are in the heavenly realm, who are
sons of God, you must behave as befits your status.
You must be what you are, and not what you were” (Packer).
you are to deal a death blow to your past evil habits,
especially those that involve your fleshly nature!”
those lions that can paralyze you!
did you notice that covetousness or greed is the last lion
fact, did you notice the short descriptor that Paul added
“which is idolatry”?
be greedy steals God from our hearts.
How can this
be? When we
give our attention to anything on this earth—money, cars,
electronics, guns, job status, education, travel, clothes,
appliances, furnishings (and none of these things are wrong
in themselves)—and put that thing over God, then it becomes
our idol, and we end up worshiping the creature, rather than
There's another passage that illustrates how covetousness
can steal God from our hearts found in 2 Peter chapter two.
this chapter, Peter has been strongly denouncing some false
what he says in verses 13ff: “They are spots and
blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they
feast with you [At your fellowship meals, these men are
making passes at the sisters who are there], having eyes
full of adultery that cannot cease from sin, [Instead of
putting to death fornication and passion, they are feeding
it as they look lustfully for new sisters who can be taught
that having sexual relations is really “a very loving thing
for Christians to do”], enticing unstable souls. [Now
notice Peter's wording that follows.] They have a heart
trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.
They have forsake the right way [or God's way] and
have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of
Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness [These men
are so perverse that they not only want to seduce you but
also expect to get paid for their teachings as well].
Are these false teachers worshiping at the idol of
pleasure and fun?
Someone has said, “Covetousness is the sin of a world
that has turned its back on God” (Shelly).
Let's learn to be content with what we have!
Covetousness indeed steals God from our hearts!
steals discrimination from our minds.
Covetousness causes people to judge all things in life from
a single perspective—the worth of self.
The questions no longer are: “Is it right?... Will it
advance God's work on earth?... Will it bless my neighbor?”,
but the questions become: “Is there anything in it for
me?... Will it make me money?
Will it be give me pleasure?” It steals
discrimination from our minds.
Remember the parable Jesus told of the covetous rich
farmer in Luke 12:13-21?
A man came from the crowd and asked Jesus to tell his
brother to share an inheritance with him.
Jesus replied in verse 15: “Take heed and beware
of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the
abundance of the things he possesses.”
When we are bombarded with over 273,000
advertisements via radio, TV, billboards, newspapers, and
magazines per year, does Jesus' warning mean anything to us
who live in a consumer society?
Then, Jesus tells us more about this covetous farmer
who had such a bumper crop that he wasn't sure what to do.
his solution in verse 18:
he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and
build greater, and there will I store all my crops and my
goods. And I
will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for
many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”'
Then God said to him, 'Fool!
night your soul will be required of you; then whose will
those things be which you have provided?'
is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich
We notice in this man's life how the darkness of
covetousness drove out the brightness of love.
What did he think about?
It wasn't about any people; all he thought about was
things—crops, goods, barns, groceries—and himself. Someone
has said that this rich man was called a fool because he let
the material crowd out the spiritual, he never acknowledged
his dependence upon others, and he failed to thank God for
his prosperity (King). Covetousness steals discrimination
from our minds.
How many of us are like the rich fool?
We work our heads off and run ourselves to death for
more things! So
much of our time is given to gaining these things that we
too forget about people and our own families.
Parents, your children want YOU.
Husbands, your family wants YOU.
Think about these questions for a moment: Is one more
dollar more important than one more hug?
Does playing with our modern “toys” take precedent
over playing with our children?
Does making another sale mean more to you than making
strong lasting family ties?
heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not
consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
Let's be rich towards God!
Covetousness indeed steals discrimination from our
steals service from our neighbors.
Remember the story of Ahab and Naboth in 1 Kings
one of the most wicked kings of Israel, one day saw Naboth’s
coveted it and wanted it badly, so he approached Naboth
about selling it.
Because it was an inheritance, Naboth explained that
it could not be sold.
Ahab pouted and sulked until Jezebel, the
wicked-hearted pagan queen, told him not to worry.
She cooked up a perverse scheme to have Naboth
killed, and so an innocent man's blood was shed as he was
moment he was dead, she gets the news and tells Ahab to
claim the vineyard.
Ahab rose up and took possession of Naboth’s
covetousness had led to murder!
But all this had not gone unnoticed by God.
The prophet Elijah was sent by God and came to the
vineyard to announce to Ahab, “In the place where dogs
licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even
yours” (I Kings 21:19).
“There are still a lot of Ahabs around, but their
sins will find them out too (J. Shirley).
Covetousness steals service from our neighbors.
Do you also recall the story of the rich man and
Lazarus in Luke 16:19ff?
The poor beggar Lazarus just wanted to eat the
crumbs, but the rich man did nothing to help him.
He was too concerned with his own wealth that he
could not share!
Someone has observed: “The problem of the rich man
went deeper than indifference.
Lying behind his cold unconcern was a self-centered
life occupied with pleasures.
His physical enjoyments were his pride.
Absorbed in them, he became mercilessly oblivious to
the needs of others” (Lightfoot).
Covetousness steals service from our neighbors.
Here's another idea.
Did you catch the last words of the tenth
are not to covet our neighbor's goods, but then it adds,
“nor anything else that is your neighbor's” (Exodus 20:17).
“That little phrase can encompass a lot of
territory, can't it?
It could also include our coveting their status,
their position, their power, or their prestige (Reynolds)!
How many “thousands upon thousands are ruining the
lives of their families, their relatives, and their friends
as they grasp for more and more” (J. Shirley)?
Let's be unselfish and learn to rejoice with others!
Covetousness indeed steals from our neighbors!
Next, covetousness steals satisfaction from our lives.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 states:
“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver.
Nor he who loves abundance with increase.”
Covetousness just wants more and more!
Covetousness is the one sin that never brings
The apostle Paul put it this way in 1 Tim 6:9-10:
“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
Now here's a question for you—Would you rather die from
wounds made by a metal trap, from drowning in a whirlpool,
or from being stuck with many spears?
The correct answer is that all of these happen to
those who are covetous and make money their god.
“Paul's concern here is to point out the spiritual
risks involved in money-grabbing” (Gutherie).
When we covet riches, we can “fall into temptation
and a snare” (there's the metal trap), and into
“harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and great
loss” (there's the drowning), and straying from the
faith, “they pierced themselves with many sorrows”
(there's the spears).
Covetousness steals satisfaction from our lives.
Another preacher said: “When we become controlled by
our desires and wants, we lose control.
You see, we can’t fight a battle on two fronts.
So we wind up 'saying one thing' and 'doing something
entirely different,' and the battle between right and wrong
steals your happiness, joy, and peace” (J. Watts).
Someone else made this good observation: “As soon as
you get to thinking that all life is about is the amassing
of things for your own pleasure, you've lost the purpose of
“... some have strayed from the faith in their
greediness, and pierced themselves through with many
Let's be generous with liberal giving that clearly shows our
desire is to serve God rather than [riches] (Harrison)!
Covetousness indeed steals satisfaction from our
Next, covetousness steals progress from our spiritual lives.
Jesus warned us about this
in Matthew 13:22: “Now he who received seed among the
thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world
and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he
The concerns that we have in this life and our
covetous striving for wealth chokes out that which is
There is an engraving on a wall at Stanford University which
says: “There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of a
man's horizon of spiritual things.
No worse evil could befall a man in his course on
earth than to lose sight of heaven” (Layton).
Yes, how easily covetousness takes our attention off
spiritual and heavenly things and focuses it on material and
earthly things (Shelly).
Covetousness steals progress from our spiritual
lives. Have you
ever noticed how covetousness just reverses all of the
elements in the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Love becomes suspicion, joy becomes discontent, peace
becomes trouble, patience become irritability, kindness
becomes cruelty, goodness becomes deceitfulness,
faithfulness becomes lawlessness, gentleness becomes
arrogance, and self-control becomes selfish indulgence
elder once made this interesting observation: “Covetousness
withers away all the highest resolves of the heart for
spiritual development as an elder, deacon, or teacher in the
How many opportunities for spiritual growth have we
passed up because we were too busy grasping greedily for
something that this world had to offer?
Let's keep our attention on what is above, on the
spiritual, on the church, on truth, on righteousness, and on
Covetousness indeed steals progress from our spiritual
Next, covetousness steals Christ from our souls.
Remember the rich young ruler who
came to Jesus in Mark 10:17ff?
He had three things going for him, didn't he?
He was wealthy, he was youthful, and he was powerful.
“He knelt before Jesus and asked him, 'Good
teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?'”
So Jesus told him that only God was good and
basically to keep all the commandments. “And he
answered and said to Him, 'Teacher, all these things I have
kept from my youth.'
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to
him: 'One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you
have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven, and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'
But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful,
for he had great possessions.”
This young had some more going for him.
He was seeking for eternal life.
He knew the commandments.
He even practiced them.
So what was the problem?
It was covetousness wasn't it?
He could not part with his great possessions.
Do we have great possessions?
Are we willing to share them?
How much of our incomes are being given to help aid
Covetousness steals Christ from our souls.
Or here's another more current example.
Kathy Griffin, a TV star, won an Emmy in 2007 for
having an outstanding reality program.
When she accepted the award, listen to what she said,
“I guess hell froze over.
A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for
this. He had
nothing to do with this ... [then she blasphemed Jesus' Holy
award is my god now”
It sounds like her covetousness to win the award
became her idol!
But what did she lose?
She lost Christ, didn't she?
Let's be willing to obey Christ and keep Him the Lord
of our lives!
Covetousness indeed steals Christ from our souls.
steals security from our future.
Jesus teaches us again in Luke 12:32-34: “Fear
not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to
give you the kingdom.
Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves
money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens
that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth
where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where are our investments?
“In contrast to the world's hoarding of possessions,
the disciple must be generous with what God gives.
By serving God and others, [we] can invest in [our]
eternal future. ...
[We] can store up eternal treasure by giving to
others” (Nelson Study Bible).
Jesus does not want us to let our possessions possess
us. “When this
takes place, possessions become a fatal barrier to eternal
Covetousness steals security from our future.
When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the
world, someone asked him how much money was enough.
He replied, "Just a little bit more" (Goble quotes
Someone else has noted: “It is a sure indication of a
materialistic heart if the feeling of [our] security
fluctuates with the amount of goods [that we] may possess”
be rich in investments toward those things which will
endure—rich in God's Word, rich in His presence, rich in
winning souls, rich in serving others, rich in the fruit of
the Spirit, rich in good works (Parmely).
Covetousness indeed steals security from our future!
What a cunning
thief covetousness is!
It steals God, discrimination, service, satisfaction,
spiritual progress, Christ, and security!
This sin “will take you farther than you want to go,
keep you longer than you want to stay, and make you pay more
than you want to [spend]” (Watts)!
Notice these sober words of the apostle Paul in
Ephesians 5:5: “For this you know, that no fornicator,
unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, has any
inheritance in the kingdom of God.”
Yes, covetousness can keep you from entering
with the strength of Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit
can we put to death covetousness!
If you haven't obeyed Christ and been given the gift
of His Holy Spirit, then confess Jesus as Lord and be
immersed into His name.
If you have been guilty of the sin of covetousness, then
confess this sin, and ask our Lord to help you refocus on
the riches that endure and to give you strength to overcome
this notorious thief!