Compliments that Compare lead to Covetness

In 1972 a gentleman by the name of William DeVaughn wrote a song that eventually sold nearly two million copies when it was released in the spring of 1974. It quickly rose to the top of the charts landing at #4 on both Billboard and Hot 100. It was so simple that it even became a hit on many christian radio stations. The lyrics went like this ” Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac Gangsta whitewalls, TV antennas in the back, You may not have a car at all, But remember brothers and sisters, You can still stand tall – Just be thankful for what you’ve got”.

The first step in becoming thankful for what you have is to stop comparing yourself to others. Apple pie and baseball are not America’s favorite past-time it’s comparison shopping, it just comes natural. Have you ever visited a friend, or perhaps a family member’s home and paid them a compliment on something like their furniture or a particular way they have decorated, sure you have. You may have even gone as far as to ask them where or how they did it so you can have it too. Maybe you’ve out with friends and see someone in a nice car, or wearing nice clothes you look and “Wow what an awesome car” why couldn’t that be me “look at that outfit” and look at me I feel as though I look horrible today” comparing begins with compliments which eventually leads to coveting. We are all constantly comparing, in some way or another and it quietly keeps us frustrated with our own life. If you really want to learn to be “Thankful for what you have” , you’ve got to stop comparing your life to everyone else’s. You need to learn to rejoice in other people’s prosperity without feeling like you have to have it, too.

Be thankful for what you’ve got – the Bible warns: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). What will be the end of those who make coveting the primary interest in their lives? The Apostle Paul wrote of those “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19).

It’s not just a good idea to stop comparing; it’s a commandment. Exodus 20:17 says, “You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor” (NIV). Most dictionaries define coveting as a deep desire to possess that which belongs to another; an inordinate desire or discontent for what one does not have. The Bible describes coveting as the uncontrolled desire to acquire. It’s such an important sin to avoid that it’s included in the Ten Commandments. The word “covet” in Greek means “to grab or to grasp so tightly that your hands are tight; you can’t even let it go.” If God ever gives you something and he tells you to give it away and you can’t, you don’t own it — it owns you.

God is not saying you should never have a desire for something. That’s not God, desires are not wrong. In fact, our ability to have desires come from God. But when a desire is uncontrolled, it becomes coveting. When you desire something that is not yours, that’s evil. But a desire alone is not a negative thing. Nothing can be accomplished unless you desire to do it. You can’t become more like Christ without desiring to become more like Christ. You can’t desire to be a good person without desiring to be a good person. Desire is not bad until it is uncontrolled and you think you’ve got to have more, and more, and more. The root of that kind of desire is in comparing yourself to others.

A man once urged Jesus: ” . . . Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). What was Jesus’ reply? “And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consistent not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:14-15).

You can’t be thankful for whatever it is you have, whatever things you have been blessed to be a steward over until you learn to stop comparing. Compliments are nice, but compliments can quickly and quietly turn into comparing which will almost always lead to coveting. In Ecclesiastes 6:9 we read “Better what the eye sees, than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind”

“You may not have a car at all, but you can still stand tall…just be thankful for what you got”

God’s Peace!

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