Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Lies Beneath

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t approach the task of reading this book with some trepidation. Why? I feared just how bright a light it would shine on my own covetousness. I knew that I, like most women, need no prompting when it comes to comparing what others have with what I lack.

We so easily spot the woman who’s “got it all”, or even just the one who’s got most of “it”, and we compare. We wonder why God hasn’t blessed us similarly. The Envy of Eve lays a foundation that explains why we so readily covet, and how the gospel of Jesus enables us to put off those patterns.

Chapter one, ‘The Cry of the Covetous’, makes the stark and at times confronting argument that coveting is not a product of circumstance, but of deeply rooted unbelief in God’s goodness and His capacity to satisfy. The covetous person is forever sighing “if only...” because, when we covet, our desires blind us into believing that if only we were removed from our current circumstance by receiving what we desired, then we could be content. But we knock down this argument when the pattern continues in our lives. The pattern of coveting, if left unchecked, is one that never-ends, because the things we desire can’t deliver the satisfaction that only knowing God can.

A struggle at the best of times and a convenient excuse at the worst for me has been the tension in identifying coveting versus right desires. But reading this book, that excuse slipped away as it became clearer what it means to covet. Kruger describes coveting on p. 24 as “an inordinate or culpable desire to possess, often that which belongs to another”. This made a great deal of sense to me given how I previously understood coveting. I grasped the culpable desire aspect, as I knew that longing for things against God’s command would be covetous, but I had given less thought to inordinate desires and how coveting arises even when we desire inherently good things.

This first chapter concludes with four helpful ‘heart checks’. Kruger suggests we can know if our desire for something has grown immoderate or culpable if:
1.  The object of our desire is wrong
2.  The means to go about obtaining our desire is wrong
3.  The motivation for our desire is wrong.
4.  The attitude while waiting for our desire is wrong.

The foundation laid in the early chapters of The Envy of Eve pushed me on my attitude in desiring good possessions and qualities, as the desire can still switch from good to covetous if we begin to question God’s goodness in withholding from us or desire it in an ungodly way.

As we meander towards the sin of coveting, we entertain a series of wrong beliefs, and chapter two speaks of three that are at the root of our coveting: unbelief in the character of God, unbelief in our purpose, and unbelief in our relationships. When I longed for the gifts of friends at church or to be as academic as those around me at university, I never considered how this undermined the truth of God’s sovereignty and goodness. ‘The Root of Coveting’ challenges us to refocus our eyes on God and His sovereign and good character. As I read, I was challenged to remember these characteristics whenever an unmet desire is stirred up in me. We too easily fall into the trap of equating God’s goodness with how often He gives us what we want. Kruger helpfully equates this to a child who thinks it is good for them to eat only junk food because it tastes good. However, their parent acts for their good with the offer of an apple instead, something which is actually for their good. God knows what is good for His people, and has a plan to bring about this good eternally.

So are there desires in our hearts opening the door to unbelief about God’s character? If so we need to refocus our gaze on the eternal hope we have through the One who knows and works what is good for us.

About our contributor:

I’ve been a Sydney girl all twenty-one years of my life, though some have argued that the northern suburb of Sydney where we live is just a touch too northern to call itself Sydney. But they’re wrong.

I grew up being taught about Jesus from a young age, and while I always thought there was a God and that the God of the Bible seemed to be Him, it was in my early years of high school that I truly understood the Gospel and put my trust in Jesus.

I’m currently in my second year of an MTS apprenticeship at Crossway Anglican Church, Carlingford. It’s been a great joy spending my days amongst the ministry staff here, learning from them and being stretched in my understanding of God, His Word, and how to bring it to bear on people’s lives.

I’ve had a long-standing affinity for reading, writing and the English language, and I was able to indulge this for three years studying media and writing at Macquarie Uni before I started MTS. It’s a great gift to have access to the Bible and know God through it, and I love poring over it to soak up what it reveals about God and His plan for us in Jesus Christ. I also love reading novels and quirky short stories, and in recent times particularly I’ve come to really appreciate the availability of good Christian books and their value in helping us understand the scriptures.

As well as this I love baking, watching The Office (US, of course!), sewing, and going out to see live bands, all with a cup of good coffee or tea in hand.

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