Covetousness teaches people to be cruel and crafty, industrious and evil, full of care and malice. After all this, it is for no good to itself, for it dares not spend the heaps of treasure it has snatched.-Jeremy Taylor
I grew up coveting things other people had because I didn’t have much. There wasn’t much money in a military family with a father in the Navy. And growing up with an alcoholic in the family, we found there was even less money than there should have been. When we coveted things, it was effortless to convince ourselves that the people who had them didn’t deserve them any more than we did, so it was easy for us to become cynical and mean and to try to figure out ways of getting those things away from them. It wasn’t a healthy way to grow up.
So, from experience, I know the adverse effects of covetousness. I know what it feels like to see what others have and wish that I had it myself, even to convince myself that I deserved it more than the people who had it did. I’m very fortunate that I never acted on these feelings, for if I had, I might have done some very stupid things in my life (actually, more very stupid things). And I do know, to a certain extent, how covetous people feel, and it’s not a pleasant feeling at all.
And I agree with Samuel Clemens–covetousness is a spiritual ailment, not a material one. I thought that having certain things would make me happier, would make me more content, and would put me more at peace. I felt that if I would just be able to have that thing, my life would be better, and I wouldn’t be covetous anymore. I see now just how silly those thoughts were, but when I was having them, they made perfect sense and often made me perfectly miserable.
Are you coveting something that someone else has? It’s time to stop doing so if you are. That thing or person or opportunity is for the other person, not for you, and it simply won’t make you happy to have it. You have to be ready to have it; if you’re coveting it, you’re not. Do you know someone who’s covetous? Then, try to understand the spiritual need that’s not being met in them and help them deal with that instead of focusing on the behavior. Covetousness is a sign that something is lacking, and dealing with that is what’s called for if we want to improve things.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of spiritual needs may be shown through covetousness?
What good does coveting something do us? Why do so many people fall into this trap so often?
How might you find out what the spiritual need is that’s causing covetousness?
For further thought:
There is no such thing as material covetousness. All covetousness is spiritual. Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.-Mark Twain.