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  • Writer's pictureLen Wikberg IV

What is the danger of a coveting heart in a ministry?

Updated: Sep 11, 2017

Am I coveting when I don't feel like following through with a commitment I made? Grudging over an obligation allows compulsive desires to deceive and twist accountability. Over time I fell into this self-deceit and desire not to go to church whenever it was our once a month turn to serve in preschool.

The Saturday night before, I would be reminded of our responsibility, sighing as regret swept over me. Was there something that could keep me out of going? Any of our kids sick, am I feeling sick “cough… cough…”?

My stomach turning as we pulled up to church and all the thoughts of what other things I could be doing instead come flooding in. I could be taking a break in a comfy seat, listening to some great(or not so great) singing. Being able to place my hard earned money into the collection as it passed by. Getting to hear the life changing message by the preacher. Digging into the deep spiritual moving of my soul as the Holy Word leaps off into my heart.

But no… no Jesus time for me. I have to go wipe butts, clean gooey snotty noses, and wash glue out of little Susie's curly hair! No one appreciates how long we have been serving for… Besides, with my experience now and insight in teaching —the way things are run around here, I could really be used to help organize and make this cat pin into a finely tuned machine!

In the Gospel of Mark, there were a few interesting questions that popped out to me of Jesus asking His disciples. “Is your heart hardened?” And “Don't you understand yet?” I prayed and asked our Lord why He asked these questions of them? Did they not just experience and witness your miracles?

I asked the Lord to lead my own heart and went back a few chapters.

In the beginning of Mark 6:1-6, the disciples just witnessed Jesus being rejected in His hometown. Because of His reputation and history growing up there, they saw a biased placed on Jesus. Thus it also affected the miracles done there because of their unbelief.

Next, Jesus sends out His Apostles in groups of two to the upcoming towns (Mark 6:7-13). He gave them power over spirits and healing the sick. Their message was to call for people to repent. They were not to take any food or extra clothes. They were to go from house to house until they had lodging, but if no one took them in they were to wipe the dust off their feet and move on.

Have you been on a mission trip before? What is the excitement and stories you want to share with others on your return? Even a local outreach or service project can change lives. What about the changes God made in you? Are you tired, hungry, probably need a shower and quiet time with our Lord?

On the return of the Apostles, they excitedly reported all things to Jesus (Mark 6:30+). But with still large crowds around Him, He could see that the twelve needed rest and a quiet area to talk. Can you imagine!

Quiet time, face to face with the Messiah? No pesky cries and wines for help, no pulling and pushing. No serving the needs of others. Just a time for rest and relaxation with the family, with the guys. Oh and the stories and miracles that we would share to show how worthy we are of praise and rewards… oh yeah, we got it coming, we deserve this!

So they all went into a boat and traveled to a remote place, but upon arrival, there was a huge crowd once again. Jesus saw them as ones without a shepherd and had compassion on them.

Have you made plans before that were broken by the unexpected? If the cause was by another person, how does your heart take the disappointment? What if it's something that happens all the time with this same person? Do you say it's ok, but start to begrudge them? Does it build upon itself, or are you able to communicate the pain and hurt that may be arising?

When the day was getting late the Apostles came to Jesus and complained about sending the crowd away. Come on.. send them away to get something to eat… this is the wilderness that was to be our time with You(Mark 6:35+)! Jesus then told them to feed the crowd.

After you have spent all your energy working or serving and you're asked to do another task, asked to clean another diaper. Asked to help hold the door. Asked to give to the needy. Asked to give of your time. When you are promised something and it falls through… how do you respond? Well, I don't know about you, but the Apostles responded with some attitude. Forgetting Who they were with, and not understanding clearly, they started to allow covetousness shape their thinking.

Continue reading for yourself in Mark 6:37-51

Now look at Mark 6:52, this was very odd at first to me, but it stood out so that I had to pray over it. Then the danger was revealed, forgetting Him! When we covet anything, especially in serving for believers, we forget who Jesus is and what He called us to do. Similar to the idea in my testimony that satisfaction leads to pride, which leads to forgetfulness… coveting creates a hardened heart that creates fantasies in your mind of better things. These fantasies cause a false satisfaction, this feeds your pride, then comes the forgetfulness!

So the best way I have seen to battle this is to speak up! Tell how you are feeling, don't bury it. We are called to go and make disciples, and we do it through love and service! If you find your thoughts are grudging, envious, or scheming, you need to pull out and seek another ministry to help in. Seek the Lord in prayer, ask Him to remind you of Who He is and what He has done in your life. What He has done throughout His Holy Word.

Jesus did rest and slept but He did it mostly upon great fatigue. Jesus, the Son of God and fully man was urgent and did not stop serving, for He knew His time was short. We do not know our time, but we are no longer alive for ourselves. We have died and live as bond servants to Christ. Are we being obedient and urgent as He was, or are we waiting for the next show for us to take a break, Sunday after Sunday?

I'll end with some great hope from the Word:

Isaiah 57:14 And one shall say,

“Heap it up! Heap it up!

Prepare the way,

Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.”

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One

Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:

“I dwell in the high and holy place,

With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,

To revive the spirit of the humble,

And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend forever,

Nor will I always be angry;

For the spirit would fail before Me,

And the souls which I have made.

Isaiah 57:17 For the iniquity of his covetousness

I was angry and struck him;

I hid and was angry,

And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.

Isaiah 57:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him;

I will also lead him,

And restore comforts to him

And to his mourners.

Isaiah 57:19 “I create the fruit of the lips:

Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”

Says the LORD,

“And I will heal him.”

Additional versus when studying and seeking the Lord in our covetous hearts:

2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.

Ezekiel 33:31 “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.

Luke 12:13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Luke 12:14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”

Luke 12:15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Matthew 5:28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 20:8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’

Matthew 20:9 “And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.

Matthew 20:10 “But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.

Matthew 20:11 “And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner,

Matthew 20:12 “saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’

Matthew 20:13 “But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thessalonians 2:5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness.

1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;

2 Peter 2:3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does[ not slumber.

2 Peter 2:14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.

Genesis 4:5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?

Genesis 4:7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

Deuteronomy 29:19 “and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.

Mark 7:21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Mark 7:22 “thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.

Mark 7:23 “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Job 31:24 “If I have made gold my hope,

Or said to fine gold, ‘You are my confidence’;

2 Timothy 3:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

2 Timothy 3:3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

2 Timothy 3:4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;

Ephesians 5:4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Ephesians 5:5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun,

That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

Proverbs 4:19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;

Proverbs 4:20 My son, give attention to my words;

Incline your ear to my sayings.

Proverbs 4:21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;

Keep them in the midst of your heart;

Proverbs 4:22 For they are life to those who find them,

And health to all their flesh.

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all diligence,

For out of it spring the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,

And put perverse lips far from you.

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,

And your eyelids look right before you.

Proverbs 4:26 Ponder the path of your feet,

And let all your ways be established.

Proverbs 4:27 Do not turn to the right or the left;

Remove your foot from evil.

2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Psalm 10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;

He blesses the greedy and renounces the LORD.

Jeremiah 22:13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness

And his chambers by injustice,

Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages

And gives him nothing for his work,

Jeremiah 22:14 Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers,

And cut out windows for it,

Paneling it with cedar

And painting it with vermilion.’

Jeremiah 22:15 “Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar?

Did not your father eat and drink,

And do justice and righteousness?

Then it was well with him.

Jeremiah 22:16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy;

Then it was well.

Was not this knowing Me?” says the LORD.

Jeremiah 22:17 “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness,

For shedding innocent blood,

And practicing oppression and violence.”

Jeremiah 22:18 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:

“They shall not lament for him,

Saying, ‘Alas, my brother!’ or ‘Alas, my sister!’

They shall not lament for him,

Saying, ‘Alas, master!’ or ‘Alas, his glory!’

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Samuel 23:21 And Saul said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, for you have compassion on me.

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