Covetousness Meaning In The Bible


Dictionary defines covetousness as the immoderate desire for the possession of something, especially for wealth. It is the opposite of contentment. In clearer terms, it is covetousness when we want something that anyone else has or when we have an insatiable desire for worldly gain.

To give an illustration, we are covetous when we see our friends get a new job, house, or even clothes, and instead of being genuinely happy for them, we think “I want that, it should have been me, it should be mine”. Another name for covetousness is envy. It is also covetous when we would go to any length to get something even if it means going against God’s Word. Most times, it is money and all the things money can buy that people covet. Covetousness is born from greed.

Is Covetousness A Sin?

Today, many people take envy lightly. They think they are simply ‘motivated’, but there’s no argument about it. God was clear in Exodus 20:17 when He said,

 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Covetousness is sinful and that is because most times, it doesn’t just end in feelings. Covetousness gives birth to many other sins, that’s why we also act on those feelings of envy and greed and go into further sin.

Taking a look through Scripture, we see many instances of people coveting and how they all ended. Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21:1-16 and ended up murdering him. David coveted Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 and also ended up committing murder. Achan coveted the fine things of Jericho in Joshua 7 and ended up stealing to get them. Gehazi coveted the gifts of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:20-27 and lied just to have them. All of these people and more eventually suffered the consequences of their covetousness.

Colossians 3:5  says, 

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”

It simply means that covetousness is idolatry. It is idolatry because a covetous person desires to find purpose or fulfillment in things that are not of God and that kind of desire can never be satisfied. So he is constantly exalting material things or even people above God.

What Did Jesus Say About Coveting?

Jesus said in Luke 12:15,

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And continued in Luke 12:34 saying,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

He told us to guard our hearts, meaning covetous thoughts are bound to come but we must not entertain them because what we may tend to lust after, are not the things that matter.

How Do You Conquer Covetousness?

God warns us not to be covetous, not for Himself but to protect us. Everyone who allowed covetousness to affect their actions has never ended well.

The difference between us and a covetous person should be that we understand that everything we have comes from God. And because of that, we depend entirely on Him for our needs and trust Him to provide for us. Understanding this will help us conquer covetousness.

Another great way is to watch what we feed our eyes and ears. We must be careful not to listen to or watch the people of the world whose gods are money and the cares of these world.

The best way to conquer covetousness is to ask the Holy Spirit for help and constantly remind ourselves of what God says about covetousness. Feed on the word of God about coveting so that when those covetous thoughts come, you can take up the sword of the spirit to slay them.

Bible Verses About Covetousness

“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

“For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Prayer About Covetousness

Dear Lord,
We thank you for the reminder in Scripture that there is plenty available in You. Thank you for creating us with our unique voice and purpose so we don’t have to feel left behind by the success of others. Instead, help us to cheer others on.
Thank you for choosing to partner with us to help advance your Kingdom here on earth. Today, I’m asking you to continue to bless those around me. Change my heart to have one of love and encouragement, rather than doubt and covetousness. Forgive me for believing the lies the enemy has discouraged me by telling me that opportunities are scarce and I need to have what others do.
Thank you that we can pray to you, who does not withhold good gifts from His children. Father, keep us focused on you and continue to stir in our hearts a passion to make your name known. Please infuse our hearts with the truth that You can provide all our needs according to your riches in glory. We love you so much.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Final Thoughts

Ecclesiastes 6:9 says,

“Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire”

It means that we must always try to count our blessings, recognize God’s goodness in our lives and be grateful to God for them rather than covet after things that God can give us. Trust God to help you choose contentment over covetousness every time.