In the Tenth Word, God forbids His people to covet anything that belongs to another, and this means that God’s people are required to cultivate contentment (Heb. 13:5). Contentment is not apathy or stoicism because true contentment is the life of Jesus inside of you which proclaims and lives both: ‘It is finished’ and ‘Go into all the world…’
The Sovereign Goodness of God
Paul begins the book of Ephesians with a doxology, celebrating the fact that in Christ, God has blessed His people with everything they need: every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). God sovereignly tells the story of the world, planning from the beginning that His people would be holy and blameless as His sons, adopted, forgiven, and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:4-14). In Christ, God is reconciling all things in heaven and earth, accounting for poverty, sickness, broken relationships, sin, failure, weakness, and ultimately death (Eph. 1:10). That is our inheritance in Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance till we receive the whole thing (Eph. 1:11-14).
Can You See It?
After Paul’s initial gushing, he tells the Ephesians that since hearing about their faith in Christ and love for the saints, he can’t stop giving thanks for them (Eph. 1:16). But his gratitude breaks out into prayer for them that the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge would fill them so that their eyes would be opened so that they would know the hope of Christ’s calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Eph. 1:17-18). Paul knows that it is possible to be adopted and having this glorious inheritance promised, still be blind to it. It’s possible to be like the dwarves in the Last Battle, having landed in Aslan’s country, but still believing that they are in the dark stable with only hay to chew on. Paul says that the evidence of seeing and knowing the riches of Christ is knowing the greatness of His power in those who believe, seeing the same power that raised Jesus from the dead at work in us (Eph. 1:19-21). In that case, we can be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11-13).
Covetousness as Idolatry
Paul models godly contentment in this passage: rejoicing in God’s provision, giving thanks for what has been given, and eagerly pressing for more. But the more is not more “for me” so much as it is more for Christ, more for the glory of God (e.g. Gen. 18:25). Contentment is built squarely on the sold-out worship of the Triune God (with no leftovers). But covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5). By coveting someone else’s job, spouse, children, success, gifts, looks, house, car, or riches, you are saying that God messed up, that God is a poor planner. You are saying that you would be a better god, better at telling this story, better at distributing the piles of wealth and resources (though you can’t even begin to count that high). But God’s qualification to tell this story is grounded in the fact that He sent Jesus and has been planning our salvation since before the foundation of the earth, which means we begin with thankfulness for Jesus and His Kingdom. Our love for Him compels us to follow Him without looking sideways (Jn. 21:22).
The Goodness of God drives us to Repent of Covetousness
-Because what we have been given is far more than we deserve.
-Because God’s plan is better than anything we could dream up.
-Because the Kingdom is coming, and we are grateful to play the parts God has assigned us.
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