We want a lot of things. Watch yourself as you go through the day. Do you find yourself wanting anything? More sleep. Better coffee. A nicer car. A better-paying job. A more affectionate spouse. Better-behaved kids. A nicer home. A bigger TV. Whatever. We want a lot. Whether it’s possessions, power, or whatever, we’re a crowd of wanters.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be more like Jesus, to love Him more, and to grow in grace. However, more often than not, our wants fall into a different category. The selfishness and greed of our hearts can paralyze our spirit. As our wants grow, our gratitude nosedives. As our covetous climbs higher, our affection for God goes lower. There is reason why God commands against covetousness (Exodus 20:17) and Jesus said we cannot serve God and mammon.
As you go throughout your day, recognize your wants, and respond with these two realizations:
- Realize the power of gratitude. The Bible is full of a tiny, but power-packed phrase: “give thanks” Giving thanks is comprised of two actions: 1) giving, and 2) thanking. Both of these actions are antithetical to greed and covetousness. When we encounter a covetous thought or a groaning greed, we should immediately focus on those things that we have and can be thankful for. Regardless of your situation or circumstances, there are a lot of things to be thankful for. Make it a practice to thank God each day for something. Maybe reading some of the “give thanks” references in the Bible can help to prime the pump (2 Chronicles 20:1; Psalm 7:17; Psalm 9:1; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 106:1; Jeremiah 33:11; 1 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Revelation 11:17). Pray. Maybe, rather than praying over your list of needs and requests, just praise God and thank Him for what He is and has done. Even if it’s a simple, “thank you, God.”
- Realize the sufficiency of God. Gratitude slays greed, and so does another realization — the realization of God’s all-sufficient character. We humans are pretty puny. A single germ can crush us into oblivion. Compared to the vastness of the universe, the complexity of the natural world, and the power of the earth’s forces, we are tiny and powerless. Who designed all of this jaw-dropping wonder? God. He is the all-sufficient one. Psalm 23 is probably one of the best-known passages in the entire Bible. It’s easy to let that first mind-blowing phrase just slip by us, unrecognized. Get this: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Did you catch it? Want?! That’s the daily menace of our hearts, that joy-snatching sense of greed and desire that corrupts an otherwise wonderful blessing-filled day. Scripture tells us that if we get a grip on God’s all-sufficient Shepherding, we will not want. The Lord is my shepherd — my all-sufficient provider, sustainer, friend, comforter, protector, Father, redeemer, shield — how can I want anything more? God knows what we “need.” He may provide what you want, whether it’s a better cup of coffee or a better car. But when it comes to providing for you, rest in His perfect, loving, omnipotence. It’s the best place to be. It’s a truly worry-free, stress-free, want-free zone of blissful contentment. Godward contentment.
One of Christianity’s counter-cultural ethics is the attitude of thankfulness. In a world that has run wild with the American Dream for more, Christians can and should cultivate the godward gratitude that dispels greed and destroys lust. Our focus of thanksgiving is Jesus Christ, the perfect Man, the Son of God, who loved us and gave his life for us. Praise God! “We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” and therefore, we can “enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!”