Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Covetousness

I am having a hard time distinguishing between covetousness and enthusiasm. Let me state it plainly - I have lust in my heart for a guitar. I already have two very nice Martin acoustics: a twelve string and my dream guitar, an OM-21. And yet I am still not satisfied. I find myself looking at "guitar porn," i.e., pictures of high craftsmanship like this beautiful Collings mahogany to the right. It has everything I want and admire in a guitar: a slotted headstock, 12-frets at the body, and a small size. It would sound and play completely different from anything I own.

Since covetousness is a dissatisfaction with what God has given us, a desire for more, I cannot help but think my attraction to this instrument is somehow wrong. I don't need it. I can't really afford it. It serves merely to fill a niche, or better, to scratch an itch. I doubt very much that if I did buy another guitar I would then be satisfied. As someone once said, "You'll only be satisfied with the next guitar." Still that finish is so sweet....

The American economy is fueled by covetousness. We accumulate mountains of stuff, and forget we even own it. Coveting things is our national religion, an attempt to fill the "God-shaped spot" within us with "things" instead of God himself. It is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole - it won't fit, and it won't satisfy. I know this, but I still covet, and I believe the tenth commandment to be the hardest one to obey. When was the last sermon you heard on self-denial? True repentance, according to the Heidelberg Catechism (Q.88), is "the dying of the old self and the birth of the new." As Paul wrote, "If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1). And yet I do hope there are guitars in heaven....

6 Comments:

Blogger Susan L. Prince said...

I wish I could learn to covet God with a passion and a fury that knows no end.

12:33 PM  
Blogger homo unius libri said...

no guitars...only harps!

6:25 PM  
Blogger anman said...

There is an easy way to fix this problem. Become a guitar collector. Then you have an excuse to covet (:

5:18 AM  
Blogger Scribe said...

I like the way you think!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Ehud would said...

Pardon Gents,

I realize I'm late to the conversation but I'd like to offer another perspective to this whole question of covetousness. Its my understanding that covetousness is not so subjective. It does afterall fall within the "duties of man toward man"(per its placement in the decalogue)over against "duties of man toward God". That is to say that covetousness is defined contextually as a crime against one's neighbor. I don't believe being a guitar afficianado rises to that bar. Let me offer the illustration of Herod & Jezebel, who, desiring another man's property, sought to buy it (no harm) but the man refused to sell. At this point Ahab should have contented himself w/the fact that God had not granted him this thing. But he did not reign his desires into a lawful disposition toward his neighbor; he (& his horrible wife) conspired against the property owner, leading to the murder of said man. There is no sin in desiring a thing such as a parcel of land or a guitar--so long as they may be lawfully & ethically aquired. The alternative view is either Ascetacism or Gnosticism. Little freckle-faced Timmy's bottle cap collection would amount to base sin. Covetousness or "envy" is to be defined not as the simple enjoyment of "things". Rather, I beleive it to be defined as an enjoyment or desire of "things" which resists God's parametered law for ethical aquisition. Let me know what you think.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

I think your comments are very helpful, and on target. What I was struggling with in my post was the lack of contentment we often feel with what God does give us, which can lead to covetousness.

Ehud, your answer echoes perfectly the Heidelberg Catechism on the 10th commandment: Q.113, "That there should never enter our heart even the least inclination or thought contrary to any commandment of God, but that we should always hate sin with our whole heart, and find satisfaction & joy in all righteousness."

So Timmy's bottlecaps (& my guitars!) are safe. I just have to be watchful over what brings me contentment.

2:57 PM  

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