This has been on my heart and mind recently so I thought I would share. The Bible commands us not to covet but I’m one of those people that often wonders “why”, I mean why shouldn’t you covet? Let’s be real, we’ve all done it, we’ve looked at someone else’s house, their car, their job, their money and thought “I want that!” Most of us wouldn’t just reach out and take it, so what’s the harm? Other than the fact that it leaves you bitter, let me tell you what happened to me recently and thereby share with you something that I learned about coveting.
A few days ago, my husband and I got a new (new to us but used) vehicle. It’s a van that runs GREAT. You can open the back doors and the trunk with the push of a button, it has a CD and cassette player, a little meter that tells you how many miles per gallon you are using at the time and on average. It will also tell you the temperature outside, and allow you to control the passenger temperature separate from the driver temperature. The van was very well kept by the two previous owners (verified by a CARFAX report), and looks brand new. Obviously I thought everyone would be happy for us, but I had one acquaintance who just out and out said “I’m not hating on your blessing BUT how come you get this and I get a junk car? Don’t I deserve something good?” It stopped me in my tracks. Then I realized, she wants our blessing but she DEFINATLY didn’t want the problems that lead us to this blessing.
See, I’ve told you about the awesome van we have now, but what I haven’t told you is about the two vehicles we had previously. One vehicle was a small red car that my husband brought into our marriage. Now keep in mind, we have twin toddlers. The back doors on the red car didn’t work. Every day, my back would be in utter pain because I had to climb into the back seat to snap the children into their car seats. I remember standing out in the POURING rain waiting for the kids to climb into the back so I could climb in behind them to snap them in. We had to put oil in that car at least once every two weeks. Where the oil was going I will never know, but it needed oil ALL the time. The muffler had to be taken off the car because it was hanging so low one day I was afraid it would drag the ground and cause sparks. Oh…and when I was pregnant, I ran it into a pole, so the font fender looked like it had gotten into a fight with a bull.
We also had another car. This was a white car that was GIVEN to ME. The back doors opened on this one, but after having it for a year, it was randomly unreliable. I put gas in the car one day, went to turn it on, and all I could smell was a strong stench of gasoline. $600 later, we find out that somehow the car has malfunctioned and gas is EVERYWHERE in the engine. Spark plugs had to be replaced, there was even gas in the air filter. Then one day the power steering went out. This is a large car mind you, (and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme), so driving this thing was next to impossible. When we got that fixed we found out the key wouldn’t turn. Come to find out, the tumblers were bad. At that point, I was stranded in the grocery store parking lot with two kids and melting groceries. Eventually they knocked the tumblers out and we started the car with a screwdriver…that is until I got stranded on the highway and antifreeze was leaking EVERYWHERE. Oh and then the water pump went out.
Now, you may have noticed I said I was MARRIED, and I referred to the cars as HIS and MINE. That was an ongoing problem in our marriage. We looked at the vehicles as “yours” and “mine” and in every fight it was “I’m taking MY car and leaving”. So…my car was the first to really break down. A head gasket blew. It sat in our parking lot for MONTHS…just…you know…sitting there. Then, last week, my husband and I were having an argument in the morning as I was driving him to work in “his” car, and I said “I hope your car breaks down and you are late!”…..And then….the car broke down, and he was late…oh and the twins were in the car too. It threw a rod so it was DONE.
A friend came and rescued us from the side of the road. They loaned us their second vehicle and had us come over for dinner the next day. We sat in their home applying for car loans. I cried, my husband did a lot of staring off into space and sighing. It was NOT a positive situation. We got approved for a loan, and the FIRST vehicle that was within our price range was this van. There was also a car (very tiny), and an SUV (gas guzzler). Of course, by this time our prayer life was AWESOME so we knew God would give us the vehicle we needed, and he gave us this van. He gave us a van that the doors open with the push of a button after YEARS of climbing into the back of a car to buckle kids in. A van that has tons of trunk space after YEARS of leaving things at home or not buying things we needed at the store because we simply couldn’t transport it. He gave us a vehicle that we could space the kids apart in, after YEARS of screaming “stop hitting your brother or I’m pulling over!”
Did you notice when speaking about the van I used “ours”. Yeah…to get this van we had to BOTH be on the title. I 100% believe that was God’s way of saying “You are ONE so act like it! There is no ‘MINE’ anymore!”
Do you get it? Are you seeing it yet? This person had the nerve to covet and be jealous over something that God gave us, but where was this person when I was crawling in the back of a car and breathing exhaust fumes? Where were they when I was seconds away from blowing my car up and wondering how exactly gas manages to get into your air filter?
Now, I’ve said all of that to say this: often times we covet what others have, but we don’t know what got them to have what it is they have, and who is to say that you truly even WANT what they have? You may think you want someone’s house but what if they have termites, the air conditioner doesn’t work, or the foundation is shaky? You may want someone’s car, but for all you know, the power steering might be out…or you know…the back doors might not open.
Seriously, God may give you something better, I can attest to that. I hate to admit it, but I coveted other people’s vehicles when we would go to church, while I drove the kids to my friend’s house so she could watch them while I went to work, while I was at the gas station…pretty much everywhere. I would see vans for sale on the side of the road and think “oh wouldn’t that be nice?” I’m not talking about new vans either. I mean old rusty things, and now, we have over and above what I even wanted.
This has been a serious lesson for me. I’ve had people say “I wish I had your family” and stuff like that, but I think this is the first time where someone has openly been bitter about God giving me something that God has not given them, and it took that for me to GET IT. Most of what we covet from others, they went through something to get that blessing. They may have worked hard for the car that they have, they may have lived on the street before they lived in their current home, they may have been through the fire with their spouse to get the strength that they have in their marriage, and we have the AUDACITY to say “I want that!” and not just: “I want that”, but “I want that handed to me with no strings attached!” Quite frankly, we don’t deserve ANYTHING. We deserve hell in all reality, but we’ve been given the GIFT of eternal life, yet we walk around wanting what others have and in some cases feeling that we DESERVE it…we don’t. Let me be real with you, our family does not “deserve” that van, and if anything it was really God providing a need IN SPITE of our poor behavior.
Basically, I just want to say, think before you covet. While your coveting takes NOTHING from the person who has what it is you want, it sows a seed of bitterness in your heart and it leads you to wanting things that quite frankly, God may not have for you. Are there still things that I want? Absolutely. We are now down to ONE vehicle which means I take my husband to work, the kids to the sitter, me to work, then pick everyone back up and bring them home. That makes for a LONG day. I’d love to have a house with a basement, more money, and live debt free, but I’m learning to wait and pray for what I want, because God knows what we NEED, and when to give us these things.
I’d also like to encourage you to be happy that God is providing other people’s needs. When a friend’s need is met, we should be happy for them. Why? Because we just don’t know what God brought them out of to give them that, and you never know how whatever it is might end up being a blessing to you. Example? One of the vehicles in our price range was a manual. My husband and I both know how to drive a stick shift, and the vehicle really wasn’t that bad, it was actually newer than the van. When the salesman asked why we weren’t interested in it we said: “because not all of our friends know how to drive a stick, what if they need to borrow a vehicle? How could we possibly help them?”
So basically my point is, stop coveting. If God didn’t give it to you, odds are he has a better plan. Be happy for your friends when they get the things that they need or want, and pray, not just for what you need/want but for your friend’s needs and wants. After getting into the van on Sunday, my husband told me that a friend of ours from church came to the vehicle and started to cry. She said she had been praying for a long time that we would get a new vehicle (complete news to me…and quite frankly I didn’t start praying about a vehicle until Friday). THAT meant a lot to me. I have been praying that friends of mine will get a bigger home. To my knowledge they have no plans to move, but they have kids and open their home to others. I’d love to see them in a huge house with a different room for every child, and when/if they get it, I’ll be the first one to congratulate them and organize a housewarming party. It’s SO MUCH EASIER to rejoice with someone when you’ve been praying for their need, so pray for others, ask God for what you want/need but rejoice when the needs of others are met.