The desire of the slothful kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor.
He covets greedily all day long,
But the righteous gives and does not spare.
One of the things about coveting that makes it so hard to deal with is that it can largely reside in your thought life. You might not even notice that you are doing it. For the most part, people are aware of it when it starts to come out. At least in Christian circles, it is not considered tasteful to publicly covet. But privately, envy and covetousness can tear us up.
Without an active defense against it, it will be there. We all have vulnerable places – whatever we are currently feeling low about is probably it. Feeling like your house is a mess? You will see people who seem to have it all together. Feel fat? Naturally skinny people abound. Feeling like a terrible mother? You’ll see lots of people who are being sweeter, more thoughtful, more patient, more everything than you.
But there is one specific kind of envy that I want to address today because it is one that this verse so aptly deals with. I am talking about a kind of envy that hides itself in the desire to give more, especially to your children. The picture in this passage is of a slothful person who won’t work, but is instead coveting what others have. This is contrasted with the righteous who gives without holding back. This verse does not break down who has more and who has less. It isn’t the poor man who covets and the righteous man who has. It is the slothful man who covets while the righteous man gives.
We were recently talking about this at our house, because it is the most natural thing in the world for parents to want to give their children everything: happy memories combined with the piano lessons you failed to get combined with a spectacular education combined with a big college fund combined with a down payment for their first home combined with vacations and really fun decorated rooms, excellent meals, fun camping trips, beautiful traditions and fun toys.
Basically, we want to give our children the world. That is all well and good – except for one thing: sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we don’t have the money or the resources. Sometimes all the things that we so desperately want to give them are all the things that we are coveting. We probably don’t see it as coveting because we think that what we want are all good things that we should want – that we are right in coveting.
But what we have noticed is that whenever you think that you really need something in order to give it, you are probably not giving something that you have. In reality, all of us have enough to give to our children. All of us have been given much. All of us have been blessed beyond measure. We have everything that it takes to leave our children with a rich spiritual inheritance because Jesus Christ is sufficient. Love was freely given to us, and it is free for us to give. Forgiveness belongs to us, and kindness, mercy, joy, hope, thanksgiving, and laughter. No matter what our external situation is, we have riches to give.
The reality is that it takes work to give away the things that we have. It takes diligence, it takes persistence. It is easier to stop working and just desire. It is easier to spend your time thinking of all the things you want to have than to give away freely what you do have. But giving freely is the work of righteous, and the desire of the slothful will kill him.
10 thoughts on “March 4: Proverbs 21:25-26”
Thank you for this. Being terribly morning sick my one covetous desire is to be like the mins who can cook dinner and hang out the laundry and go on outings! But I can still love them. I needed this perspective shift. Thank you.
*Mums not mins. 🙂 I’m blaming that on baby brain… 😉
Such a good word. I happened to read this verse just this morning and had already thought about it extensively before I read this application you focused on. Thank you for your diligence and persistence to give what you have been given-to me!
I thought of my mother-in-law as a good example of contentment when I read this. She has told me how she used to wish and pray for a bigger house for their 11 children, feeling like it would benefit them so much. The big house never came (they raised their family in 2 and 3 bedroom houses), but at some point she realized the God had answered her greater desire, which was that her children would grow up to be good friends. When she looked at it that was, she was able to be grateful for the crowded house and see the blessings that came from it for their family.
^oops, I meant “that God” not “the God.” Also, it should be “looked at it that way” not “was.” 🙂
This was really convicting for me as a daughter living in a house hold of ten where our parents cannot always afford to give us all the benefits that some can. I struggled with being covetous of all those talents that others had, thinking I could be a real blessing if I had those advantages. I realized that I have Christ, and that is all I need to be a blessing to people. What you said about it being easier to spend your time thinking of all the things you want to have than to give away freely what you do have, was what I was doing. I used the excuse that because I was not as good at piano as so-and-so was because she had a teacher, meant that I just couldn’t bless my Grand parents by playing for them at all. I have recently learned that simply by playing even simple pieces for them with a joyful hear, has meant just as much to them as if I could play the most difficult pieces flawlessly.
I always have enough to give! Thank you for writing this article.
So true! I’ve never stopped and considered this to be coveting. Thank you for shining the light into the dark corners of my heart.
Thank you. This was convicting on several levels. I am guilty of coveting, among other things, time. I use the lack of time as an excuse for many things. But I have been blessed with the ability (requirement!) to stay home and care for my family, and so I have far more time than when I had to work full time and care for my then-disabled husband. My duty is to keep and use my time as carefully now as I did then.
Thank you for your thoughts. Many blessings to you.