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Greedy With Bad Eyes

Or

You Can't Always Get What You (Think You) Want

Or

Thank God For Unanswered Prayers

A Study on Idolatry, Greed, Coveting, Stubbornness, Envy & Lust

 

By Bart Nelson

 

 

 


 


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This study all started one weekend. Two seniors in our youth group were graduating and I had what I had thought was a 'Godly' jealousy of one who is a worshipper, intercessor, prophetic and has been on several missions trips already. She is headed to Spain and Bible College. Wow, I thought, I wish I had been like her at 18. In our church's Sat. Night prayer meeting I voiced thanks for them in prayer and prayed for them as well. Fast-forward to Sun. Night and we had a special speaker for their graduation service. He is 18 years old, been to Mexico a few times and was an awesome preacher. Again, silly me voiced my 'Godly' jealousy of his speaking ability at 18. A wonderful sister gave me a loving correction that I was exactly where I should be, doing what I should be, etc. I was very encouraged and comforted, as well as convicted. I truly repented, then and there, for my incorrect statements. You see I know good and well God's excellent plan for me. I obeyed my Dad's wishes and did not go to Bible College or to a Christian University. God was in that direction, because I would have exited those fine institutions with more religious pride than anyone would have wanted to be around. So, my sister was so right, I was right where and when and how God wanted me, ministry-wise.

 

Later that evening (I'm a night owl by choice) I was relaxing playing a computer game, DX-Ball. It is a paddle ball-pong type game that if you capture the correct falling objects, you can become explosive, double your balls, etc. It's fun and adrenaline producing if the game goes well. As some may be aware, I can't see out of one eye and the other has some degree of fuzziness at times. I had an explosive ball and had almost completed that level when a falling object gave me the opportunity to double myself. Being greedy, I went for it, got it, and died, ending the game for me (I lost my 3rd life). That's when the title came flashing into my mind, "Greedy, With Bad Eyes". I had already been convicted by Holy Spirit, but I soon got more so as I read the scriptures below...

 

This is one of the scariest scriptures in the word to me: Eze. 14.1-8 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.’ Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. 8 I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Basically, what God is saying is that if we come to Him with preconceived ideas of what is best for us, an idol, He will give us what we think we want. I pray to God it isn't so with me! Ps. 81.12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. This is another example of God allowing His people to have what they want, in spite of the consequences for them due to the fact that they won't give up!

 

You may say, "I have no statues that I bow to nor offer sacrifices to." Well, have any of us idolized a relationship, a position, an athlete, musician, model or entertainer? This is as much idolatry as bowing and sacrificing to an idol. How about when we clap, shout, raise our hands, sing and-or chant for a favorite team or star. How close is that to what we do for God? Could that be idolatry? Do we have any prized possessions? Do we elevate them above creatures made in God's image (i.e. any human beings?)? I know I am meddling, but I am just as convicted and guilty as you!

 

Ex. 20.1-4 And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. The first two of the Ten Commandments tell us what not to worship. Most of us have no issue with bowing down to a physical representative of a god. However, there are many things that can become god in our life.

 

Yes, God desires to bless us, but He desires that we seek Him above the blessings (be they health, prosperity, position, relationships, ministry, etc., etc.).

 

Ps. 27.4, 8 One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. When You said, Seek My face, my heart said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek. Ps. 84.1 How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You!  Are we longing for, fainting for, crying out for, or desiring the presence of anyone or anything more than the Lord?

 

Ps. 103.7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. Israel was content to know only the miraculous provision of God, but Moses sought and received more, he got to know Him. Many of the Israelites perished, seeking only the benefits, complaining when they didn't receive them!

 

Mt. 6.31-34 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Do we seek God, His Kingdom and rightness first and most in our lives?

 

Yes, God wants us to minister to others, but He wants us to minister to Him first and most. Even the anointing is for His benefit, primarily.

 

2 Chron. 29.11 My sons do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him, to minister to Him, and to be His ministers and burn incense. God wants us to minister to Him before we minister anything to others.

 

Esther 2.12-13 Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women. Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace. If an earthly king was to receive a bride with such preparation, is not Jesus much more worthy of a bride without spot or wrinkle? The anointing helps remove some of the wrinkles in our life as well as cover the stench of the flesh.

 

Eze. 16.1-15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and be-came very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine, says the Lord God. Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God. But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. Again, God is seen here preparing for Himself a bride. The oil speaks of anointing, the clothing speaks of righteousness and authority, and the jewelry speaks of gifts of the Spirit. All were designed to give God pleasure! This passage goes on to talk about how all that God did for Israel was spent on other lovers.

 

Jn. 12.1-8 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.  Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the moneybox; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always. This was Mary's dowry, to be poured out on her husband. No one else had this scent during Passover since no weddings were to occur this week. Only these two smelled like this. This anointing was poured out from a position of a slave, to minister to Jesus like no one else even thought of doing. May we be the same.

 

Indeed, God commands meaningful and right relationships with others in His word, but our relationship with Him must be foremost.

 

Mt. 10.34-39 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Mt. 22.37-39 Jesus said to him,  ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Lk. 14.26-27 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. The hardest relationship to bring into line is that with our personal selves. I am the god most often on the throne of my life, on the altar of my worship. Any time my will 'crosses' the will of God, that is my cross to bear.

 

We are not to idolize any of these things. We are not to put our identity in any of these things. These things are very much secondary issues. We need to check out where our time, energy, money, thoughts and emotions are focused! Of the 168 hours in a week, of the money we earn, the energy we have, all the thoughts and feelings we have, and how much is directed for God's benefit?

 

Phil. 3.3-14 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

 

Jam. 4.4-5 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?

 

1 Jn. 2.15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

 

God desires that everything in our life drive us to Him. We can choose to be driven in that manner. I'm not saying that I have arrived at this point by any means, but this is to be our goal.

 

Also, check out these scriptures: Eph. 5.5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Col. 3.5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Our coveting something that is not ours is equal to idolatry! 1 Sam. 15.23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king. Here stubbornness is equated to idolatry! Jug. 2.19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way. How many of us are guilty of doing our own stubborn way? That, too, is idolatry.

 

Ex. 20.17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor ANYTHING that is your neighbor’s. This includes spiritual things. This scripture brings to mind envy and lust, which are related sins.

 

Lk. 12.15 And He said to them, Take heed and beware of covetousness, for ONE’S LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST IN THE ABUNDANCE OF THE THINGS HE POSSESSES.

 

These verses outline what greed, lust and coveting produce in our lives. Job 5.2 For wrath kills a foolish man, and ENVY SLAYS A SIMPLE ONE. Ps. 106.13 They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and TESTED GOD in the desert. Ps. 115.4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat. 8 THOSE WHO MAKE THEM ARE LIKE THEM; SO IS EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN THEM. Pr. 1.19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; IT TAKES AWAY THE LIFE OF ITS OWNERS. Pr. 11.6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the unfaithful will be CAUGHT BY THEIR LUST. Pr. 14.30 A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is ROTTENNESS TO THE BONES. Pr. 15.27 He who is greedy for gain TROUBLES HIS OWN HOUSE, but he who hates bribes will live. Mt. 5.28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has ALREADY COMMITTED ADULTERY with her in his heart. Mk. 7.20-23 And He said, What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and DEFILE A MAN. 1 Tim. 6.6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS. Jam. 3.16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and EVERY EVIL THING ARE THERE. Jam. 4.1-5 Where do WARS AND FIGHTS come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is ENMITY WITH GOD? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? 1 Jn. 2.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—IS NOT OF THE FATHER BUT IS OF THE WORLD. 17 And the world is PASSING AWAY, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

 

1 Cor. 5.11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person. Paul says we're not even to eat with a covetous or idolatrous person!

 

Pr. 28.16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.  We are promised long life if we let go of longing for things we don't have!

 

There are many principles in living a victorious life. For a complete listing, see my booklet on Godly Character. Here is a list of verses that mention the topic we're discussing.  Job 31.1 I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman? Ps. 101.3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Job and David had the right idea - guard the eyes, whatever it takes! Rom. 6.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rom. 13.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. We're to plan and purpose to make no provision for lust. In other words, do what needs to be done to not even allow the images, thoughts, etc. to be in our lives in the first place. 1 Cor. 10.3, 12-14 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. God wanted to help us overcome lust, so He wrote the Old Testament for our example. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. This is the proper response towards idolatry - RUN! Gal. 5.16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. It doesn't say don't fulfill the lusts of the flesh and you will walk in the Spirit. Paul tells us to focus on and do what Holy Spirit wants us to do, and we won't do the don'ts. Heb. 13.5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Being content is how we get rid of covetousness. 2 Tim. 2.22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. We're to run from the bad and towards the good! 2 Pet. 1.4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. God's promises help us escape from the lust in the world.

 

There is a fine line between idolatry and believing God for something He's told us was ours. Only Holy Spirit within each of us using the word of God can determine which side of the line we are on. No preacher-teacher can do it for us and I certainly won't. There is a time and a place for resting and trusting in what God has given us and for praying through until the answer comes on something He's promised. Let's make sure we die to ourselves, allow Holy Spirit to search us & and obey daily. Then we'll be sure!

 

The bottom line, convicting though it is, is that we need to trust God for those things we think we need and want. He WILL supply ALL our needs according to His riches in glory, but it WILL be according to His timing, His way, etc. He wants relationship, trust and character more than anything.

 

We all have bad eyes. We think we want things that really aren't right for us. Our vision is distorted. Today is the best timing for us, if not yesterday. Only God knows best the what, when, how, why, who and where. He may eliminate the need or desire. He may provide it in a way we never dreamed. Often, what we think we want is actually fool's gold, looking good, but in reality, virtually worthless, especially if we paid the price of real gold! Also, quite often, we don't count the cost of what we think we want - cost of time, upkeep, depreciation, additional costs, etc. lastly, we think what we want will bring us ­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________, when, in reality, it won't bring that at all. The Rolling Stones sang two songs that apply here. The first is (Can't get no) Satisfaction, which is the point here. That inner quality we seek from whatever we think we need is not coming. The other song is almost spiritual. It is, You Can't Always Get What You Want (but you can try sometimes, and get what you need).

 

If we had God's eyes, we could see the true costs of what we want. We would be able to see what benefits there might be (or not). We would know if we were hankering after counterfeit, rather than the real. We would understand oh so much more. But we're not, and never will be God.  NEVER! And so, we (and I absolutely include myself in the we) need absolute dependence on the guidance, wisdom, understanding and discernment of our Awesome Father.

 

We are great in praying for guidance for the what, and then we run off. What about the other questions? We need those answers as much or more that the what. Speaking of prayer, we should offer thanks to God that He DOESN'T answer ALL our prayers. What a mess we would have if He did. Have you ever NOT gotten something that you had been dying for, and later were so glad you didn't get it? How about gotten something you'd wanted with all your heart, and later wished you'd have never seen it? Maybe wanted something NOW, but had to wait, and got it much cheaper, free or in such a way that made it so much better than if you'd used plastic to get it? He is so wise, He cares for us so much, and He won't always answer yes, right away!

 

The truly scary thing about all of this is that when Israel was idolatrous, god considered it spiritual adultery, a fact we read in this study under James 4. Repentance is the only answer. The only way in the word that God allows a couple to break up a marriage covenant is due to adultery. The only time God broke His covenant with Israel was when they committed spiritual adultery. Let's allow Holy Spirit to search our hearts and see where we stand.