Discontent and the Oft-forgotten Sin

John Peckham
Discontent and the Oft-forgotten Sin
Photo by Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

Have you noticed the widespread spirit of discontent today?

Many desperately seek after that which will finally satisfy their desires, but find the more they acquire, the more they want.

Much of the conflict in this world revolves around people selfishly clinging to or grasping for wealth, position, and power.

Because we are fallen human beings, we are bent toward selfishness, in direct contrast to God’s character of perfect, unselfish love. Sin and selfishness go hand in hand.

In some circles the word “sin” is not heard much anymore. Some prefer not to speak of sin, preferring only positive messages.

The Bible, however, has a great deal to say about sin, including in the Ten Commandments. Among these stands the increasingly neglected tenth commandment against coveting (Ex. 20:17). 

Hearing about the sin of coveting is rare these days. In fact, if you asked people on the street what coveting is, I wonder how many today would even know the meaning of the word.

Put simply, the sin of coveting involves selfish, inordinate desire for that which others possess.

Sadly, much around us is designed to cause us to desire in just this way—to feel emptiness and longing for what we do not have, and, sometimes, to desire what belongs to others. From more traditional forms of advertising to the algorithms of social media and more, we are endlessly bombarded with messages signaling our brain to be discontented, unsatisfied, to desire many things we have no need or use for. Paul, in contrast, calls us to be content in whatever state befalls us (Phil. 4:12).

Of course, if we are being honest with ourselves, it does not take clever ad campaigns or social media algorithms to cause us to covet. We are all too good at that ourselves.

In many ways covetousness is the forgotten sin of our day. And, perhaps, that is unsurprising, since it is so closely connected to sin’s origin—when Lucifer fell, turning inward in pride and grasping to be exalted even to God’s throne. In direct contrast to the devil, Jesus did the opposite of grasping for position and power—humbling Himself to become human and die for us (see Phil. 2:5-8).

And in Christ, there is amazingly good news for us.

A primary purpose of Scripture’s emphasis on sin is the promise that we can have victory through Christ and, eventually, through Christ’s work all sin, evil, suffering, and death will be eradicated.

If we place our faith in Christ we will find that our deepest longings, which nothing in this present world can fully satisfy, will be fulfilled forevermore in His coming kingdom. And, even now, we can find contentment and abounding peace in Him (Phil. 4:7).

In the meantime, let us pray for God to change our hearts and help us follow the ultimate example of unselfish love provided by Jesus—the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), who loved us and gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:2).

John Peckham