The Bible says, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desires: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit,” (Ecclesiastes 6:9).
The spirit of discontent or covetousness has caused more heartache, pain and sorrow than possibly anything else.
The spirit of covetousness has corrupted so many, including politicians, civil servants, and even preachers. Covetousness is coveting someone else’s stuff and then so many times actually taking it (Exodus 20:17).
In the spirit of covetousness, and taking what they want, there is also the spirit of violence. In taking from someone that which they will not give up freely one must be violent and most often injurious.
Violent crimes are the result of discontent and covetousness. Contented people are not violent people.
I would venture to say that the majority of the people in prison are there because of their covetousness. They refused to be content with what they had and wanted something that wasn’t theirs and violently took it.
Paul tells that a covetous spirit is the root of all evil, and that would include violence, “But they that will be (covet to be) rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows,” (2 Timothy 6:9-10).
Covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). It’s putting material and temporal things before spiritual and eternal things. Even the Christian has to guard against covetousness and strive for contentment.
Paul points out that contentment is something we must learn (Philippians 4:11). He says that whatever his state or circumstance or situation, he would accept it as coming from God and be fully content with it. Paul tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and “having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6, 8). In other words we are rich when we are in the will of God, living in holiness and are content with the bare essentials of life.
We choose to covet or we choose to be content.
What we actually have and can see with our eyes; our food, our house, our clothes, our car, and the other things are reality. In these things we should see the goodness of God to us and be thankful and be content.
Those things we cannot see but lust for and covet after in our heart is an alternate reality we will probably never realize. But our wandering desire and restless spirit keeps us from experiencing and enjoying the peace that a contented heart brings.
“Better is the sight of the eyes” or wisdom to see the many gifts and the goodness of God and be content, “than the wandering of the desire” or coveting after things we can never have.
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.