I’m sure we can all remember the childhood learning game in which the youngster is encouraged to find “which one is not like the others”. Maybe it was a row of even numbers with one odd number. Or maybe it was a line of stripes with one polka dot print. In our reading this morning, I can’t help but think that one sin doesn’t seem to quite fit in with the others mentioned in the same list.
In 1 Corinthian 5:11, we see a list of a type of professing Christians that we should not keep company with. In chapter 6 we see this same list again as a description of the type of people that will not inherit eternal life. This list includes the types of people that I think any of us would understand belong in these categories: idolators, adulterers, revilers, drunkards, homosexuals, and extortioners. However, there is one type of sinner that is mentioned in these two lists that jumps out to me as almost not belonging with the rest of this rather rough group- one sin that doesn’t quite seem as bad as the others. What sin am I referring to? Covetousness.
Yes, if a professing Christian is a covetous person, he or she is to be avoided, just as we should a drunkard, adulterer, etc. And if someone’s life is one of habitual covetousness, Paul warns that this type of individual will not inherit eternal life, no different than the homosexual or idolator. How often do we think of covetousness as being that serious? I would contend that we often gloss over covetousness as a minor sin, a sin of the heart that’s just not that big of a deal.
How would we define this serious sin of covetousness? Websters defines it as:”inordinately desirous; excessively eager to obtain and possess; directed to money or goods”. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that our culture is one inundated with covetousness. TV commercials are often geared to tap into this natural tendency we have for more, bigger, and newer. How many millions of Americans are in huge amounts of debt because the pull of covetousness is more than they can control. If the Jones’ next to us have that toy, then we need to have it too! And even if we may have enough self-control to not run out and actually buy these things, how often do we find ourselves daydreaming about such things, thinking if we could just get that one item how much more fulfilling our lives would be? Brothers and sisters, let’s keep ourselves on guard against this serious sin and be content with such things as we have!