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The Covetous Attitude


A recent article by Christian Counseling Associates makes the point that the attitude we choose, can have big consequences. 

When we can identify wrong attitudes, with God’s help, we can begin a process of replacing them with the attitudes God has designed for us.  This can be healing.  

Attitudes can be responsible for the way we think, feel, and behave.  Even serious mental health problems, like clinical depression, or anxiety disorders can be significantly reduced or even resolved over time by changing our attitudes (in the field of psychology we refer to this process as Cognitive Therapy).  We need to realize that attitudes are important.

  Covet (v.) – to desire (what belongs to another).

According to James MacDonald, in Lord, Change My Attitude – the covetous attitude is common in the Western world and in the Church.   The consequence – it blocks the flow of God’s fullness in our lives.  

 In Numbers 11:4 – 30, we see how the people of Israel are provided food every day in the form of manna, or bread from heaven.  When the people struggle in the desert with hunger, God provides the food that will sustain them.   In the midst of their desert journey, God provides.

Unfortunately, the people of Israel start to covet other food.  They don’t need the food, they want it.   They think back (incredibly) to their time in captivity, and yearn for the meat that their slave masters gave them.   They say to themselves, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost-also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna! (Numbers 11: 5 – 6, NIV).”  

The nation of Israel, covets food.   The consequence is that their attitude keeps them stuck in the desert.   Their attitude separates them from the awesome plan that God has for them – the Promised Land. 

The coveting attitude is common in our society.   At the root of coveting, is a rejection of the life that God offers us.   Just like the people of Israel in the desert, God is providing for us what is needed, and we react with a “that’s not good enough” attitude.   We look at what God provides, and say, “I need more.” 

What is the result?   We are consumed with wanting what others have.  We want the more impressive career, the bigger house, the exotic vacation, the perfect spouse, the perfect body, the fancy sports car, the better toys, the bigger yard – you name it.   Whatever it is that someone else has, we start being consumed by what we want.   The final consequence is that we can’t stop the yearning.   We can never get enough.  We become tortured by our wanting. 

When considering the example of Israel’s covetous attitude, the bible says, “… He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul. (Psalm 106:15, NKJV).”   When we set our hearts on what we don’t have, we might accumulate more material wealth, but it results in a poverty at the heart level.

Detecting the covetous attitude is difficult, and it requires taking a prayerfully honest look at yourself.   This week, commit to reflecting on your life and zeroing in on any area where you may be coveting.   To help in this examination, ask yourself the following questions:

1)      Am I a covetous person?

  • Do I tell myself things like: when I get this, or when this happens, or if this situation can just get settled….then I can be happy?

 2)      Am I experiencing the consequences of a coveting attitude? 

  • What is my attitude about worshiping God, or reading the Bible?  Do you have difficulty experiencing fulfillment in these activities? 
  •  Am I able to see and experience contentment in what God has provided in my day to day life?

 3)      Am I willing to stop coveting?

Let us reflect on our lives this week: with God, with family, with friends, with our Church, and at work.   Then spend time in prayer.   Take a ruthlessly honest look (at the heart level) for the coveting attitude that may be operating in your life.

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