Coveting vs Contentment


I taught my daughter the Ten Commandments… She can say them all from memory. Then came the task of defining some of the words for her (she is only six at the time of the original posting of this article). She needed a definition that she could understand for the word “covet.” We did our best and came up with “not being content with what you have, so you try and satisfy your heart with thoughts of possessions that don’t belong to you… This causes you to look for happiness in things instead of God,” for coveting.

It has been interesting to see her process and try to grasp the term coveting. She uses the word coveting, but we try and highlight the positive aspect of being content. The real struggle, as with everything in parenting, is that we are imperfect parents.

Teaching my daughter about coveting has taught me more about my own heart. It seems impractical to chide my child about being content with what she has (and she has a lot), if I am buying up every new gadget out there (I’ve resisted the I-pad ever since it came out). Not that buying stuff is wrong… Coveting has nothing to do with what you buy and has everything to do with your heart. You really don’t have to buy stuff to covet. You can be poor as poor can be and in your heart think that if you just had enough money, stuff, etc. you would be satisfied. If you believe that, then your heart is turning away from God. It’s irrelevant whether or not you make the actual purchase if you look to a product, possession, job, etc. to provide you with happiness. True and lasting happiness comes with a real relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering his sacrifice and his joy has helped me understand and be more content with what I have and ultimately who I am in Him. Like the Apostle Paul, I have learned to be content (though this is a battle I often fight every day and have to relearn often).

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

This is my prayer for my kids. I know that if they grow up content in whatever situation they find themselves that they will be well rounded happy adults who are more likely to be submitted to the will of God. I wouldn’t want the desire for a bigger house keep them from the mission field (should God call). I wouldn’t want the pursuit of comfort keep them from living for the Eternal.

It’s easy to get distracted, to feel entitled, or to just plain place your hope in an object or status. It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have stuff. All good parents love giving their kids gifts. I just don’t want them looking past the gift to the next big thing and forget the one who gave them all the gifts.

To be honest it’s too easy to look past the Lord’s provision sometimes. If we are not careful we will think our situation in life is less than is should be because we don’t have an appliance, gadget, etc. Yet these things are not eternal; they do not satisfy. We were made for greater things and when we find ourselves content in little or much we are in a place to be used by God who meets all of our needs in Jesus.

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