During my time of reading this morning, I came across an interesting story about a vineyard. In 1 Kings 21, we’re introduced to Naboth the Jezreelite and reminded of Ahab, king of Samaria. The text says that Naboth had a vineyard that was beside Ahab’s palace. It must’ve been in a great location because Ahab wanted it, a lot. He wanted it so bad that he decided, one day, to ask Naboth for that very vineyard in order that he might use it for a vegetable garden. Unfortunately for Ahab, Naboth turned down his offer. Seeking to get possession of the vineyard, Ahab spoke with his wife, Jezebel, who would help him carry out an elaborate plan that would make the vineyard his. They sent letters to the region and told the town to elect Naboth as head over them. Then, Jezebel sent a couple of men in to stir up false accusations against Naboth. These accusations were so serious that Naboth was carried out and stoned to death.
At one point or another, we’ve all been to the point where we’ve looked at something and have coveted. Maybe it’s not the neighbor’s vineyard. Perhaps it was their shiny new car, or their grill, or even their house. The point is, we all do it. We all see advertisements for something and yell I want! Unfortunately in my study throughout scripture, I’ve come to the conclusion that covetousness always opens the door for all other sins. In Ahab’s case, he first wanted his neighbor’s vineyard, but this covetousness quickly became a murder scene. In my post today, I wish to shed some light on the most popular Biblical stories of this domino effect in action, and give an appropriate response in solving this covetousness.
God had spent 6 days creating everything from nothing. He made his finest creation yet, Adam and Eve. They were given commands to have dominion over the garden, to be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth. They were also told one thing that they couldn’t do: eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. They had the freedom to do just about anything. There was just one tree they had to stay away from. Adam and Eve wanted what they couldn’t have. They saw the tree and they coveted. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, who in turn convinced Adam. Once God came along to assess the situation, Adam and Eve ran like children in an attempt to hide from God. Their covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of Eden was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.
In The Promised Land
Israel had spent years wandering about in the desert after their Exodus from Egypt. It was finally time for them to enter the land God had promised them long ago. Jericho was the major city that was standing in their way. After a long drawn out plan that God had revealed to Joshua, God brought the city walls down and delivered Jericho into their hands. The Israelites were told to leave all the spoil (all the silver, gold, bronze, and iron) for God. They were to put all of it in the treasury of the Lord. Unfortunately for Israel, there was one who didn’t listen. Achan saw among the wreckage a beautiful cloak, some silver, and a bar of gold, and said, I want. He coveted the material and the money and decided to keep it from God. In order to keep this a secret, he buried his loot in a hole underneath his tent. Achan’s covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of Israel was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.
In The Early Church
Jesus had spent a few years doing ministry and just like that he was gone. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we could have life. This Gospel, or good news, was spread through the region like wildfire because of the passion of the early church. One member of the church, Joseph, was blessed by God. He was impacted so much by the Gospel, that he felt called to sell a field that belonged to him and return the profits to the church. After doing so, Ananias and Sapphira saw a higher spiritual status and said, we want. They too decided to sell a piece of land, but kept back some of the profits for themselves. Instead of being honest, they made it seem like the profits they were giving were everything. They were quickly discovered and killed. Ananias and Sapphira’s covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of the early church was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.
Like what happened in Eden, in Israel upon entering the promised land, and in the early church, covetousness always opens the door for all other sins. We need to stop saying, “I want”, and instead focus on what we already have. When covetousness comes your way, count your blessings. Memorial Day was this past Monday. Memorial Day is a great time to remember those that have died defending the freedoms and rights we have in this great nation. We have so much that others don’t. When covetousness comes your way, remember those less fortunate. I’ve been blessed with the ability of serving on several foreign missions trips. It’s during trips like these that I am pushed to remember how fortunate we really are. Most importantly, when covetousness comes your way, remember the gospel. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The price that we were supposed to pay was paid in full. Like that’s not enough, he then was raised from the dead to show that through faith in Him we can have life. We’ve been given the greatest gift of all. What else should we ever covet?
(Photo by Flickr user: Bruno Cordioli)