Do Not Covet What Others Have
“Some years ago, Dr. Irene Hickman, an associate professor of psychology at California State University, prepared a report based upon hundreds of case studies reported in various medical journals. Dr. Hickman declared that nine out of ten illnesses in this country are money related. She stated that ‘economic insecurity and preoccupation with making more and more money is a national illness within itself.’ Professor Hickman asserted that the average income in America is adequate to house, clothe, and feed our families, but our citizenry is obsessed with wanting more and more luxuries” (Jackson).
“Someone asked the multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller the question of ‘How much money is enough?’ His answer was, ‘One more dollar than I have.’ He therefore, would never have enough, no matter how many billions he had” (Mountain Wings).
“Covetous politicians’ desire for power not only subverts the system of government-by-compromise established by our founders, but also empowers special interests to enjoy what Sen. Mike Lee recently described as ‘cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders twist the immense power of the federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else’” (Crawford).
“Covetous corporations caused the Great Recession and continue to hold sway over America’s economy…When such corporations place short-term profits above all else they decimate jobs and wages for American workers. This drives both high unemployment and the growing wealth gap between the rich and middle-class” (ibid).
“The ratio of CEO pay to workers’ pay was 295.9-to-1 last year, according to a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). That ratio is down from a peak of 383.4-to-1 in 2000 but is far higher than the historical norm. The ratio was just 20-to-1 in 1965 and 29.9-to-1 in 1978” (Covert). But, CEOs in these years came from within their companies and operated during less global and less restrictive times. “Indeed, in 2013, three in four incoming chief executives had worked for multiple organizations…Gone are the days of the reliable five-year strategic plan;…[now, strategy] is a process marked by continual evaluation and reevaluation” (Favaro) Demand for agile and seasoned leadership has driven up the cost of qualified CEOs and has cascaded higher pay into other companies as C-suite executives become leaders in smaller firms.
“CEOs have enough on their plate these days in a slow-growth, regulation-heavy economy that’s being roiled by technological change and global competition. But expect the SEC’s pay-ratio rule to add something more…Under the rule, companies must to disclose median worker pay… and compare it with CEO compensation…Irv Becker told CEO Briefing: ‘But it will be a disclosure item and something that the press and the broader population will pick up on. It will be meant to embarrass and get headlines.’” (Buss).
A. An Inside Job.
- John MacArthur says that covetousness comes from within the heart/mind, Matthew 15.19. Paul mentions covetousness specifically as sin in Romans 7.7 and 13.9.
- New English Bible Note re ‘covetousness’: “focuses not on an external act [like the first nine] but on an internal mental activity behind the act, the motivation for it…where the object desired is off limits…This command is aimed at curtailing the greedy desire for something belonging to a neighbor, a desire that leads to the taking of it or the attempt to take it. It was used in the story of the Garden of Eden for the tree that was desired.”
- 3. Easton Bible Dictionary re ‘covetousness’: “It assumes sometimes the more aggravated form of avarice, which is the mark of cold- hearted worldliness”: don’t strive for worldly lifestyle: Colossians 3.5; Ephesians 5.5 (covetousness is idolatry); Hebrews 13.5 (be content and depend upon God, not strive for money); 1 Timothy 6.9-10 (love of money is a root of evil, to take away faith in God); Matthew 6.20 (lay up treasures in Heaven).
- Luke 12.15, Jesus: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
B. Why is the ‘rich young ruler’ where he is today?
- His encounter with Jesus is found in Matthew 19.16-24 and Luke 18.18-25. [Side bar: how is Mark 10.17-23 different and why? What is the connection of ‘defraud’ to Jesus’ instructions to sell and give to poor?]
- Which of the six of the Ten Commandments did Jesus leave out? Why? Could his wealth have been the result of Proverbs 13.22 (Proverbs 28.8 and Job 27.16-17) and Ecclesiastes 2.26? Or, did Jesus know he was guilty of covetousness and was giving him a means for redemption? Did Jesus want the RYR to realize his sin and make confession?
- So, what was his end? Will you see him in Heaven? Why or why not? He was looking for worldly exchange, an earning rather than a relationship which faith for eternal life is (MacArthur’s note). Solomon wrote: Proverbs 18.11 leading to Proverbs 14.12.
- What do you conclude from Proverbs 23.4-5 and 30.7-9? How much is ‘just enough’?
C. Scope and sequence
- What is the scope of Exodus 20.17? Is anything excepted and okay to covet?
- Why the sequence that is stated? Did God start with the most obvious first? Was He anticipating what Moses warned about in Deuteronomy 8.11-20? Why does He end with the next most obvious, the ‘donkey’?
- Why did God include ‘ox’? What does Micah 2.2 say about the ‘ox’? What about taking marketshare? Do we strive to just satisfy customers’ needs, or to purposely displace other providers? Is this manipulation, similar to promoting wants in addition to needs? Let God connect buyer to seller, in proportions to bless all providers. What about advancement in responsibilities? Does God lead toward His plan for us (John 3.27), or do we seek to displace others to get the job, their job?
- How can this be true of pastors and churches?
- How does envy relate to covetousness? Jealousy? The presence of these means what, according to James 3.16?
D. So, how do we keep from coveting?
- 1. Watch your company, as Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 5.11-13, Ephesians 5.3-7, and 1 Timothy 6.9-10.
- 2. And, remember 1 John 2.15-17. Contrast John’s warning with Proverbs 10.22.
- 3. Let Proverbs 30.7-9 guide you, remembering Philippians 4.18-19 and Hebrews 13.5.
- 4. Follow 1 Timothy 6.4. God will give us the ‘things’ we need for the context of those we are to win to Jesus (2 Corinthians 5.20). What attracts them?
- 5. After all, Matthew 6.24. Choose rightly! Consider Jeremiah 17.9-10.
- 6. Read and reread Jesus’ story in Luke 12.15-21.
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter. 2015. www.sozoclass.com.
Buss, D. 2014, August 16. Chief Executive:CEO pay-ratio rule likely to produce little information but lots of heat. Retrieved from www.chiefexecutive.net.
Covert, B. 2014, June 12. ThinkProgress:CEOs earn nearly 300 times what their workers make. Retrieved from www.thinkprogress.org.
Crawford, B. 2014, February 17. Mississippi Business Journal:Covetous politicians, corporations, consumers befoul America. Retrieved from www.msbusiness.com.
Favaro, K., Karlsson, P, & Neilson, G. 2014, Summer . Strategy+Business:The lives and times of the CEO. Issue 75. Retrieved from www.strategy-business.com.
Jackson, W. Christian Courier:The curse of covetousness. Retrieved from www.christiancourier.com.
[End Note: you might be interested to read the brief story of John D. Rockefeller’s change of mind regarding money at this website.]
Mountain Wings. #3248. Daily Inspiration. Wings over the Mountains of Life. Retrieved from www.mountainwings.com.