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.
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?
To be continued…