Today we focus on the battle between the Unbelief of Covetousness and the Striving for Contentment. I think our text in 1 Timothy makes clear what Covetousness is, and that the battle against it is a battle against unbelief, or a fight for faith in the promises of God.
Before we compare Covetousness vs. Contentment, let’s learn form Paul the difference between a Godly Life and Unhealthy Desires…
I. Godly Life vs. Unhealthy Desire
2b “Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. 3 Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. 4 Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. 5a These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. 1 Timothy 6:2b-5a
A. Teach, Encourage, And Guard
- Timothy… Teach these truths, promote a “godly life” (v.3)
- People may “Contradict our teaching”…They are arrogant and lack understanding. They quibble over words, stir up arguments, cause trouble, corrupt minds and “they have turned their backs to the truth.”
2. Timothy…Encourage others to Obey the Word and the Lord. Encourage everyone the read the Word as well!
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” (v17)
3. Timothy…Guard what God has Given you: ”Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness.” (vv20-21)
II. Covetousness VS. Contentment
A. Defining the terms
- The Word “Covetousness” isn’t in this Text, yet this text is all about it, “To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become
wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” (vv5b-6)
- This Gives us the Key to the definition of covetousness:
? Covetousness is Desiring something so much that we lose our Contentment in God.
- When Contentment in God increases, Covetousness decreases.
So then lets, “Run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” (vv11-12)
- Have you ever Considered that the Ten Commandments begin and end with virtually the same commandment? “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) and “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17) are almost equivalent commands.
- The fight against covetousness is nothing other than the fight of faith. This is one of the clearest proofs that the way to obey the Ten Commandments (one of which is, “Thou shalt not covet”) is by faith. It’s also proof that covetousness is a state of unbelief.
- Coveting is desiring anything other than God in a way that betrays a loss of contentment and satisfaction in him. Covetousness is a heart divided between two gods. So Paul calls it idolatry.
- Well Covetousness, then, is exactly the opposite of faith. It’s the loss of Contentment in Christ, so that we start to crave other things to satisfy the longings of our heart. There’s no mistaking, then, that the battle against covetousness is a battle against unbelief, and a battle for faith. Whenever we sense the slightest rise of covetousness in our hearts, we must turn on it and fight it with all our might with the weapons of faith.
B. Warnings Against Covetousness
The Main weapon of faith is the Word of God. So when covetousness begins to raise its greedy head, what we must do is begin to preach the word of God to ourselves. We need to hear what God says. We need to hear his warnings about what becomes of the covetous and how serious it is to covet. And we need to hear his promises that can give great contentment to the soul and overcome all covetous cravings.
1. Covetousness Never Brings Satisfaction
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:15 ESV
- God’s Word on Money : possessions don’t satisfy those who love it. If we believe him, we will turn away from the love of money. It’s a dead-end street.
- Paul presents a Remedy, “True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” (v6)
- Jesus put it like this: there are enough miserable rich people in the world to prove that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 NIV
2. Covetousness Chokes Off Spiritual Life
Jesus told the Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1–20), and said that some seed fell on among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it.
- Then Jesus interpreted the parable and said that the seed is the Word of God. He notes that in verse 7 that, “Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain.”
- The seed sown among thorns is interpreted like this: “The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.” Mark 4:18-19
- The Desire for other things can be so strong that the beginnings of spiritual life can be choked out altogether.
“All too quickly the message is crowded out by…the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.” (v19)
- This is such a frightful warning that we should all be on our guard every time we hear the word to receive it with faith, and not choke it with covetousness.
3. Covetousness Gives Rise to Many Other Sins
“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
- Covetousness is a Breeding ground for a thousand other sins. We have to be the people who flee from it to Contentment.
“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it.” James 4:2
4. Covetousness Lets You Down When You Need Help Most
It lets you down even at the hour of death. “After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it.” (v7)
• At the greatest crisis of your life, when you need contentment, and hope, and security more than any other time, our money and all our possessions are all gone. They let you down in the end. They are fair-weather friends at best. And you enter eternity with nothing but the measure of contentment that you had in God.
- “When we Leave it” Did I build a Life of Contentment or Coveting?
- If I Dropped Dead tomorrow would I take with me a payload of Contentment, or would I tell God, “I just wanted a few more things!”
“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” (v8)
- Will I keep all things to myself or share my Contentment?
“Generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.” (v18)
5. Covetousness Destroys the Soul
“People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.” (v9)
So, verse 9 isn’t saying that greed can mess up your marriage, or your business (which it certainly can), but it’s saying covetousness can mess up your eternity with “ruin and destruction.”
• God has gone the extra mile in the Bible to warn us mercifully that the idolatry of covetousness is a no-win situation. It’s a dead-end street in the worst sense of the word. It’s a trick, and a trap.
- Let’s Strive for Contentment together. We can be the kind of people who are Content and Thankful for all the Lord has provided!
“By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (v19)
Brothers and sisters, all covetousness is unbelief. Learn with me how to use the sword of the Spirit to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. Let’s be Followers of Christ who live in Contentment and have Passion for God, not stuff!