From Covet to Covenant

Money EyeCOVET-(verb) yearn to possess or have (something).

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”                                                

ENTITLEMENT-(noun) the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something.

At work I overheard, “I got towed when I went to get a burrito. It was only $100 so it’s not that big of a deal.” A coworker was nearby and responded, “I’m spending that much to get my hair done on Friday. I can’t afford it but it will make me happy so I don’t care.” I sit in my chair staring blankly at my computer screen. I can’t help but feel frustration with them.

I believe God puts certain people in your life who mirror behaviors or tendencies you currently or once possessed.  The frustrations I felt existed because there was a time, albeit long ago, I would have made either of those comments. I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it because I wanted it and somehow I convinced myself I deserved it. I would say to myself, “My job requires me to look and dress a certain way.” My address said just as much as my extravagant car and clothes. I wasn’t living beyond my means so I felt it was reasonable. My “debt” came in other forms which could not be reimbursed. I was completely delusional about the illusion of success. Exodus 20:3 “Thou shall have no other gods before me.”

I rise from my desk and go to my coworkers. I ask them how it factors into their budget. They laugh and say they do not have one then instantly give me a bunch of reasons why. Typically when someone gives too many details it is because they are trying to convince themselves and not the listener.

God allowed me to wander my proverbial desert for a decade. It was desolate. He took me so far down that I wasn’t sure I would make it out. Every single thing I thought mattered was gone. I lived in a cheap hotel because the “perfect” house was taken from me by divorce. I made work matter too much and put it before everything. Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” My fast-paced career, I loved so much, now gone. I was a sobbing mess who could no longer work at that pace. I took a job washing golf carts. I had no money for groceries so I waited for the snack bar to close and took leftover hotdogs back to my hotel room. The only thing I had were my clothes, shoes and purses. It was pretty pathetic owning multiple purses costing a few hundred dollars yet I cried myself to sleep wondering how to afford gas money. I biked to work trying to hold on but couldn’t for long and had to sell nearly all of my clothes to pay for my room. I started shopping at Goodwill out of necessity. I worked nearly every odd job I could to make ends meet. My Mom would buy too much of something at the grocery and say I had to take it or it would spoil. She knew my pride wouldn’t allow for me to voice the need for help. It is tough to admit something is your entire fault. It was my fault. I wasn’t raised that way. I knew better. I got caught up in the appearance of earthly success. It was a grand illusion that revealed itself to me over more than a decade of actual need verses want.

I brought it all on myself because of coveting and entitlement. I am never upset for someone else’s success or what they have. But I once REALLY struggled with, “ME TOO!” I want that and I shall have it as soon as I can drive my nice car to the nice store carrying that nice thing which someone will say nice things about once I have it. All of this boils down to putting worth and value in fleeting, meaningless things. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you get what you pay for but there is a point where it becomes excess. Each person has to know their own tipping point. Exodus 20:15 “Thou shall not steal.”  I used my time and money as if both were endless and mine to spend as I pleased.

James 4:1-12 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

I think we can miss opportunities by not telling our story from the beginning, where we have been and where we are now. The moment – and I know it – I stepped away from church and reading the Bible, to make more room for work, my world began forming fissures that would eventually reveal themselves as if a dam had broken loose. Tiny decisions matter. That little voice saying, “This is not ok” is God’s quiet whisper. Don’t shut it out!

But I repented. I still struggle with the havoc I caused not only myself but my family. I cannot worry more about the judgment of others than I do the Judgment Seat of Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:10). I want to be transparent no matter the cost. I barely recognize the person who lived a decade of my life. Not the girl in the desert but the one before. I am so grateful to God and his mercy and goodness to me. I pray never to be led into temptation. I carry the brokenness as a scar and a gift. I survived because I had a Savior who loved me and said He would take all of my sin away if I accepted the gift of Salvation. God saved me from myself. He broke me. He disciplined me as His child. He provided my basic needs as he promised he would. God broke me to bless me.

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, o God, You will not despise.”

Jennifer Whittaker writes devotional articles for Buck Run. You can read her work here every other week.