Okay nearest and dearest readers, I have really struggled with what to write about this week. Not because I have nothing to talk about but rather because I have too many things to talk about. I could talk about rape or I could talk about ISIS/Boko Haram or I could even talk about whether you really want a God or a genie. The list is endless but as I put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard), I just kept hearing the word “covetousness” being impressed in my spirit so I think I’ll go with that.
In our world today, it is the norm and often encouraged practice to lust after what others have whether it be their relationship, their career, their designer wardrobe, hairstyle etc. Some call it flattery, I call it greed and the absence of contentment. I’m not saying it’s wrong to admire what others have and aspire to something similar but when it becomes a matter of trying to acquire these material things by-any-means-necessary-at-the-expense-of-your-integrity, then you need to be called out. Soz!
I’d like to draw your attention to one of the 10 commandments which is the last but not the least on the list: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus chapter 20 verse 17).
To covet means “to yearn to possess something belonging to another” and to yearn means “to have an intense feeling or longing for something”. You might say, “But I don’t see how this is such a bad thing, after all it’s not bad to want nice things!” I get your argument because I like nice things too but when I begin to “yearn’ for it particularly because others have it, that is covetousness and the stepping stone to trying to keep up with the Joneses. Before you know it, you’re cutting corners, spending money you don’t have, tempted to steal and other sins in order to possess that which you covet. And I think if you’re jealous of what other people have especially when you can’t get it for yourself, that’s also covetousness, in my humble opinion.
Today so many Christians let so much slip under our “holiness” radar that we can’t even separate the ways of the world from what the Bible tells us God’s way is. Just as a reminder, God’s way is that, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength” ( Mark chapter 12 verse 30). The reality is that as soon as the desire for anything else in this life especially material things, overtakes your desire for the things of God, you are on a slippery slope to Covetous-Ville and in a direct violation of the second and third commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them…” (Exodus chapter 20 verses 3-4, part of 5). The Bible is applicable for ALL generations much to some people’s dismay so I’d like to point out that the the word “carve” isn’t just restricted to making sculptures from wood but also refers to: our job which we carved out of the job market and all of a sudden place it above God by trusting the job more than we can trust God to provide for us as if He wasn’t the one who gave the job or; our spouse who God finally blessed us with after years of loneliness when all you had was God and now all of a sudden your carved image of a spouse is the reason you have become too sprung to come to church to spend time with God. Need I go on? It catches you off guard because it’s a part of your daily living.
Black Friday is a great example of a perfect breeding ground for covetousness and greed to manifest in our lives at full speed. You feel pressure from the “buy it now or lose it forever” ads to spend money you don’t have to buy what you don’t need all because you can’t manage your FOMO (fear of missing out) levels. That’s not to say, however, that if you took part in the sales, you are covetous. Not at all, assuming you bought what you needed and scored a bargain while you were at it. It was a good way to also sort out Christmas pressies so it ain’t all bad. But 20% of a £1,500 bag is not exactly a “need-to-have” item. Again hear what I’m saying, I too like designer bags but not at the risk of neglecting my financial responsibilities (rent, council tax, savings, phone bill etc). If you don’t have responsibilities then please ignore me. If you do have these responsibilities and now you’re broke and your rent is due but still carrying that cute bag you just bought or wearing those stunning pumps you just purchased but can’t afford to pay for transport, please re-assess your priorities and reflect on the reason for your buying decisions.
I have no qualms saying any of this because not only is it the truth but also I have been there before and I still have to struggle with my shopaholic impulses all the time. On Monday evening I turned down my dad coercing me to take the money he was offering me to buy an iPhone 6S Plus and that’s when I understood how far I’ve come. Now, my dad will pull the moon down if he could, for me, but the problem is he can often overstretch himself to his own detriment i.e he will rather me have it all and him be broke. Knowing what I know about his personality, that will be the wrong thing to do because while I’d love a new phone, I’d also like to train my flesh from gratifying every selfish desire it has – the selfish desire, in this case being, taking advantage of someone who cares deeply for me all because I want to have the latest iPhone asI head to Lagos for Christmas. My 5S camera will just have to come correct for now and that miserable 16GB memory will just have to miraculously stretch!
As a Christian, remember you are called to a higher standard of living with a goal of character development not a standard based on acquiring material wealth in order to match up with the next person or to try to prove you’re ballin’. Contentment is EVERYTHING!
Don’t be caught off guard. It’s definitely not the The Steph Way 😀