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“Mortify…covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5

Possibly no sin in the believer’s life is more pernicious and difficult to identify than covetousness. Paul says, “I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’”1  Coveting is one sin that the conscience cannot identify as wrong; it is wrong because God says that it is wrong.

For me personally, I find that even after God says that covetousness is wrong, I still have difficulty identifying it in my life. When do desire, anticipation, and other forms of temporal hope, become sin? How do you know when you have crossed the line between wanting something and coveting? As I have meditated on this, I conclude for myself that I cannot know.

It seems to me, however, that God affords certain indicators that help in this effort. When anticipation becomes expectation, resulting in disappointment, the line probably has been crossed. A lack of gratitude may be another indicator. The presence of anger and experiencing stress are also possible indicators. The absence of such indicators does not eliminate the possibility of covetousness, but they can become warning signs in our lives. Lord, help us to be alert to your warnings in our lives!

1 Romans 7:7  “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shall not covet.”

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