About Relationships

Today's role for a Christian woman takes many forms working together - mom, sister, wife, home maker, career women, and more. All of these relationships demand your time and attention. At iBelieve.com we want to help you grow in healthy relationships whether you’re single and dating, newlyweds, married or widowed. Find encouragement and feel uplifted with the sharing of personal experiences from women in every walk of the Christian women’s life.

3 Subtle Signs of Covetousness (And How to Break Free from Their Grip)

  • Betsy St. Amant Haddox
3 Subtle Signs of Covetousness (And How to Break Free from Their Grip)

We all know how it feels to see a friend succeeding while we seem to be standing still. We’re all too familiar with that knot that forms in our stomach when our co-worker gets the promotion we wanted, our or best friend gets the new guy’s attention, or our family member is awarded a large sum of money. As long as we’re in this fallen world, we will struggle with jealousy and coveting. It’s as simple as that.

However, thanks to Christ and his death and resurrection, there’s hope for our greedy tendencies.

By Webster’s definition, covetousness is “greedy, acquisitive, grasping—showing a strong desire especially for material possessions.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s not anything I want to be associated with. We must remember the secret of happiness that’s found in the Gospel:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

This doesn’t mean that when we seek to follow the Lord, we’ll suddenly be showered with an assortment of designer shoes and an expensive line of makeup products. Rather, it means our hearts will shift, and we’ll desire kingdom-minded things instead of couture. (Doesn’t something in your spirit take a deep breath at that possibility? An inhale of relief? There’s a reason for that, sister.)

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Ridofranz

Comparing Situations

Comparing Situations

When my husband and I first got married, we were saddled with two homes. He needed to sell his house in a nearby city, while we rented a house in the city where we live and work now. We figured this financial situation would resolve itself in a few months, but the Lord had other plans. We ended up living for a year and a half with the equivalent of two mortgages.

To say this was draining on our finances was an understatement. Yes, God provided and we never missed a bill and sometimes had extra money, but there was also a lot we couldn’t do, such as save up to buy our own house as newlyweds. As a couple in our 30’s, it was often hard to go to a Bible study at a friend’s house and or a double-date and see how far “ahead” they were compared to us, be it homes or vehicles or otherwise.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Subconciously Coveting

Subconciously Coveting

But that was the problem – we were subconsciously coveting because we were comparing. It’s not that we didn’t want them to have what they had—we just felt like we should have it too. It was hard not to feel “less than” or believe there was something wrong with us because we weren’t in the same position with the same things. That whole “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality is such a deception.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

"I wasn’t lacking in their abundance."

"I wasn’t lacking in their abundance."

Yet the truth is, our friends (and yours!) have different life stories and different circumstances. Why would we ever hold our stories against theirs and expect to be in the same place? They hadn’t gone through divorce and lived as single parents for years. They weren’t trying to rebuild credit and pay off the debt that accrues from those situations. Yet, they had their own struggles and stories of hardship and triumph. I realized I could rejoice with them for owning a beautiful home where we could fellowship together! I could be happy that they had a nice house to host us in!

I wasn’t lacking in their abundance. This realization took me a while to come to because it was subtle. Had I seen it and fought it earlier, I could have been freed sooner.

Here are three subtle signs of covetousness that often sneak up on us and how to fight them with the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Nortonrsx

1. Not rejoicing with those who rejoice.

1. Not rejoicing with those who rejoice.

When your best friend, acquaintance on Facebook, or old college roomie gets a brand-new SUV, is your first reaction to share in the celebration? Do you think, “good for her?” Or do you think, “woe is me?” Do you sincerely think things like, “aww, she’s going to be so cute driving in that,” and “thank goodness, her old car was falling apart—now she’s safe!” Or do you start to compare your vehicle to her new one and begin to fight insecurity over how you look from the driver’s seat? 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

"...coveting can easily lead to other sins..."

"...coveting can easily lead to other sins..."

“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.” (Exodus 20:17)

According to this Scripture, coveting can easily lead to other sins, such as theft, idolatry, and adultery. It’s not worth it! Ask the Lord to help you be content with what you have and see the blessings in your life instead of comparing and believing you’re coming up short. You’re not.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jose Aragones
 

2. Paying more attention to people’s material items than to people themselves.

2. Paying more attention to people’s material items than to people themselves.

When you’re out and about seeing people at the mall or the gas station, what do you see? Do you see them as a whole person? Or do you simply notice their car/purse/outfit, like they’re a walking advertisement for what you want?

When you’re visiting with a friend, co-worker, or family member, what do you find yourself paying more attention to? Their mood, expression, and conversation? Are you focused on what you can contribute to their day and their heart posture? Or do you find you’re giving more attention to their handbag and designer shoes and wondering where they went shopping for that new sweater?

If we’re not careful, those thoughts of our lack and desire can sneak up on us and distract us away from people and their hearts. We should be more focused, like Paul, on meeting needs than longing for extra possessions.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Rawpixel

"...live from a posture of giving..."

"...live from a posture of giving..."

"I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:33-35)

It’s much less stressful to live from a posture of giving rather than receiving. When we’re more concerned with what we can give and how we can bless others, we ourselves are blessed in return with peace, contentment, and joy—gifts that retail therapy and prestige simply can’t provide.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Felix Russell

3. Your prayers feel like they're hitting the ceiling, or they aren't getting answered with a "yes."

3. Your prayers feel like they're hitting the ceiling, or they aren't getting answered with a "yes."

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (James 4:1-3)

This is pretty clear-cut. When we pray with selfish motive for selfish gain, the Lord is typically going to say “no.” (Unless he grants us what we want to teach a lesson, much like the prodigal son who ventured off, only to come back broke and humble.) Don’t learn lessons the hard way! Ask the Lord to reveal your weaknesses in this area and change your heart. He will. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Action Steps:

Action Steps:

Coveting and jealousy can be sneaky—but we’re without excuse to keep sinning in this area. 

"What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'” (Romans 7:7)

We know the law and what our hearts are prone to, and it’s up to us to fight with the Word and bring our wayward hearts under submission to Christ. This might mean:

 

  • Avoiding certain situations where we know we’re weak and will be tempted to covet.
  • Reminding ourselves daily via a written “gratitude list” that we’re not lacking and that we have more than we deserve already.
  • Making a point to give more frequently and freely, so that we’ll kill the root of greed before it grows in our spirits

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Paola Aguilar

"...we have everything we need in Christ..."

"...we have everything we need in Christ..."

At the end of the day, coveting is always born from a heart fearing scarcity. When we realize that we have everything we need in Christ, we’re able to slay the green-eyed monster of jealousy. When we convince our souls to live from a posture of abundance rather than a fear of lack, we can conquer the raging beast. 

Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Davids Kokainis