7 questions to help you spot concealed covetousness

How much ‘wanting’ is too much ‘wanting’?

Desiring community, desiring a spouse, desiring a child, desiring a job – all good things, but what is the tipping point?  When does your desire become covetous?

Covetousness is when your desire for something eclipses your desire for God.  You want something more than you want Him.

It’s surprisingly easy to spot when the thing you desire is withheld: you get frustrated with God, angry and bitter.

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the covetousness that is concealed from us because we have been given the thing we desire.  We want something so much that we lose our contentment in God, but we never even notice, because we have our treasure.  We’re like Golem – living happily with our precious, feeling like we lack nothing.Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 4.24.43 PM

What if Satan’s sneaky method of attack on the consumerist Disney World of America has been to give us the things we desire (the good things) and in that way – keep us blinded to our coveting hearts?

For those of you in happy marriages or godly communities or experiencing healthy happy kids: when did you last search your heart to consider the possibility that you desire those treasures more than you desire God?  Do you have concealed covetousness in your heart?

Here are some diagnostic questions (inspired by this blog post by JP) to help you examine if your desire for good things has become covetousness:

1. Does the strength of your desire lead you to disobey God? 

God says – don’t hate, but someone messes with your treasure and hatred pops up in your heart.  God calls you to not be anxious, but your desire is threatened, and your heart responds.

2. Is your desire disproportionate to the worth of what is desired?

Do you behave as if your possessions have the worth of a person?  Do you treat the people you love as if they have the power to determine your worth?  Who or what gets the place of first importance in your life?

3. Do you want God more than what He has given?

Does your community, spouse, church, job all leave you hungry for more of God?  Do they all leave you strangely unsatisfied?  Do you notice their insufficiencies?  Or do they feel…perfect?

4. Do you feel entitled to the thing you desire?  

5. Does your desire draw you away from your duties?

I found myself the other day resenting my teaching schedule because I longed to be with my community.  God has called you to care for the least and lost.  Who dictates your schedule and priorities?  Your treasure or God?

6. Does your desire every make you oblivious or callous to the needs and desires of others?

I live in a city that has been ravaged by floods.  We live in a world where need is always a stone’s throw away.  Do you neglect the needs of others to tend to the needs of your ‘precious’?

7. Does your desire exist to magnify Christ as supremely desirable?

Piper says it this way: “Enjoying anything but Christ (like his good gifts) runs the inevitable risk of magnifying the gift over the Giver. One evidence that idolatry is not happening is the earnest desire that this not happen.”

Are you open to the option that the things and people you love have the potential to be idols?

I’m going through a season where I feel the blessing of REVEALED covetousness.   Things I desire have been withheld.  It feels AWFUL.  I feel the graspiness in my heart, but I’m not kidding when I call that a ‘blessing’.

Because that covetousness has always been there: crouching in my heart, but it’s been concealed from me.  My inner Golem has been kept silent; tossed enough scraps by the world to keep him satisfied.  Now, he is growing hungry and that’s impossible to ignore.

Which has left wrestling with another question: how do you wage war on a desire for a good things?  How do you fight covetousness when the desire itself and the object of the desire are both good? 

Hmm.

To be continued…

9 thoughts on “7 questions to help you spot concealed covetousness

  1. Oh well i guess its back to the drawing board matthew seek ye first..ive disobeyed and when God stopped the desire from being fulfilled He showed me others who needed my help MORE then me getting my desire i was in dignant as if to say’ im the most important person in my world, how are you going to put their needs above mine?’ I suppose it isnt a need and thats crushing because their are those i feel God adores and He cant wait to fulfill their hearts desires but me its just an option, like take a ticket how many others are in line before you youre not THAT important, their needs trump yours. Disheartening but true.

    1. Gosh, I know how you feel, but let me assure you – it is not true. Let the Cross prove it to you. Don’t let your perception of the world guide you my friend. Fight to walk by faith. I am praying for you right now, because I know so clearly how you feel and you are not alone. Love. fabs.

  2. Please hurry with part 2…:) i need some answers! This is something I have really struggled with. How do you decide what is the best decision out of several good ones because maybe what i really want is because i am covetously desiring something because its “easier”? I struggle as a working mom watching my kids growing up without much guidance because i am not there. I pray for God to change my situation but nothing happens…This article has given me much to ponder…

    1. Charlotte, I hear you! Check out the blog on deceitful desires and then the two blogs on fighting idolatry. I’m with you – (and so is every person alive I think) – all the good things we love are so easy to confuse with gods, but looking to His betterness will help our hearts worship Him alone. praying.

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