HOUSMAIL HM#026 - COVETOUSNESS BY E-MAIL!                     7 June 1999 __________________________________________________________________________

A couple of days ago I received yet another of those E-mail "chain mail letters", which offered me $55,000, in return for sending only $5-00 to the name at the top of the enclosed list. And, of course it included a couple of small "legal subterfuges", which claimed to find a way past the laws which some countries have in place, to outlaw these "letters".

Wow! 55,000 dollars! All I have to do is send off a couple of E-mails, spend $5-00, plus the price of a postage stamp, and wait for the money to roll in! According to the sales pitch, I can even do it several times a year, and it should work every time!! And to bait the trap a bit further, a couple of "testimonies" were included from "satisfied users", who reported enormous results.

Of course some people will be quick to ask what could possibly be wrong with a little easy money, especially if the scheme really is "legal"?

Well, for Jesus, mere legal conformity isn't the end of the story! Of course Jesus NEVER breaks God's law. But neither does He condone the clever "legal" subterfuges by which the hard hearted Pharisees were so adept at "bending" God's words to give the appearance of "legality" to things which God never intended.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus challenges us to set far higher standards, and walk the Narrow Way which goes FAR BEYOND what the law requires! (Matt 7:13-14) We will never be able to learn what those standards are, if we spend our time looking for questionable subterfuge methods that just manage to get past the law!

Of course the Bible had this subject covered long before these E-mail chain letters were invented. It didn't take God by surprise! All we need to do is apply His ancient words to a modern form of the same TEMPTATION. __________________________________________________________________________

Firstly, the real name for it is "COVETOUSNESS"!

COVET - "to long to possess, especially what belongs to another" (Webster's English Dictionary)

Think about it. The scheme invites me to try to fulfil my "financial want to haves", by looking at money in the possession of others, and then attempting to ENTICE them to give ME some of it, by appealing to THEIR covetousness! i.e. Give me 5 of YOUR dollars and I will tell you how to extract more from other suckers! (Wow! $55000 dollars! and all I have to spend to get it is $5-00?)

The Bible says that covetousness is no different to idolatry. And it is listed right alongside some other BIG sins which God hates.

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming." (Col 3:5) __________________________________________________________________________

Secondly, it is NOT even close to what Jesus taught about asking God alone, in the secret place. (Matt 6:5-6)

With a promise like that one, who would be stupid enough to bypass God in the secret place, and go public with our covetousness, to ask MEN to do better than God?

However there is a little "codicil" which we have to accept, to make it work. We will have to adapt OUR GOALS to match God's provision ...... not ask God to shift His GOALPOSTS to match our AMBITION! If we ask in the secret place for $1,000,000, and God responds by providing only 10 cents, THAT IS HIS ASSESSMENT OF OUR CURRENT NEED!

But ..... if we really believe ..... it will ALWAYS be enough for what God thinks we need! And we will NEVER go hungry, or be without adequate clothing. __________________________________________________________________________

Thirdly, by going public before men, instead of asking ONLY in the secret place, it denies Jesus the opportunity to fulfil one of his great promises. (Matt 6:24-34)

That promise does work! But of course there is a condition attached, isn't there?

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God ..... AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS". __________________________________________________________________________

Fourthly, it goes beyond contentment with God's provision. (1 Tim 6:6-10)

"Those who desire to be rich, fall into temptation .....

And in this case the particular temptation is covetousness.


Luke 12:15
"Beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Eph 5:3
"Covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints."

Allon __________________________________________________________________________

For further reading see Bible Digest No 56:
The emphasis is a bit different, but the lessons are also applicable here.