Contentment and Covetousness are opposing forces. One settles you in God and the other makes you turn you back to God. Contentment is under-girded by the idea that God is for you and He works for your good. Covetousness is backed by the idea that God is holding back from you and He is not necessarily for your good
Contentment is being satisfied in the will of God. It is not the height of fulfillment but it means you take a stance similar to this: “it is enough that God is God, and I am His child and He loves me.” With Contentment, God is not your plan A or B or Z; He is simply your reality – you have enough trust that you throw your lot with God.
Covetousness is the desire to gain, selfish gain. It is when desire approaches or reaches the obsessive state where it overrules what is good i.e. what God defines as good. Covetousness is not necessarily an action; it starts out as a thought, an inclination.
Idolatry is primarily a condition of the heart. In Col 3:5, we see that covetousness is idolatry. There is no hard and fast rule on classifying a particular action as idolatry. We must be careful to not fall into legalism and rationalize away the idols in our hearts
In Lev 26:1 and Exo 20:3, we see that we have the power to make things or people an idol. An idol’s power lies in the heart. Idols are not necessarily made of wood, stone or iron. An Idol is anything that serves as a source for us, outside of God. It can be a source for success, happiness, wealth, acceptance, affirmation, support, healing, love, recognition, comfort, etc.
Anything we put before God is idolatry. We must be careful here because if you were to ask me if I put anything before God, my sincere answer is No and I do believe that wholeheartedly. However, how does this come to play when I want to make career decisions and I give little thought to God? How does this work itself out when I make decisions about marriage, friendships, investments, etc., without integrity? When I work to see my own ambition come to pass at all times without caring who I step on, is that not putting my ambitions before God? How is my aforementioned claim reflected in how I spend my time and what I think about?
The fool has said in his heart (not with his lips) that there is no God (Ps 14:1, emphasis mine). How do we say there is no God? We say it through our actions, when we set aside the instructions of God and seek to make things happen in our own might. If David had killed Saul in 1 Sam 26:1-12, it would have been David saying, “God, I know you are all powerful, but I can handle this situation better, so relax and let me handle this”
We act from our heart, see Proverbs 4:23. We will never do anything that does not make any remote sense to us. Our actions show what we, to some extent, believe. Yes, an act of violence might not mean I am full of violence but it does show that there is violence in me. The same goes with gossip, caustic lips, anger, etc.
Our actions, at the very least, show what we are made up of. They might show that we don’t love as much as we think we love or maybe they show us that we are not as matured as we think.
What we love, desire or give attention to, repeatedly, beyond the parameters God has set for us is an idol. Sports can be an idol for you in a way that it is not for another person. What we draw strength from apart from can be idolatry. What we give our resources (time and strength) to can be idolatry. When your heart is stirred with discontentment and you look for satisfaction outside of God, then you are inching towards idolatry, if not already in its throes.
The problem with idolatry is that one tends to see everything else through the filter of the idols in one’s heart. Even when it comes to hearing from God, you can twist things as much as you want to support your goals. Eze 14:1-11 troubles me as it shows that when I am in idolatry, I can seemingly twist the words of God so I hear what I want to hear.
Take a step back and look at the last couple of months, where, if ever, did you lose that settled-ness in God, that calmness that has you running ahead of God to accomplish or see something through? Where have you lost that posture of laying down in the lush green meadows when it comes to relationships, love, acceptance, comfort, etc.? Where have you turned away from standing by the Master as you walk along the calm, restful waters in pursuit of recognition, affirmation or maybe retribution? Where did your eyes leave the Master in pursuit of something else although you are still walking by His side?
I am guilty of idolatry in so many ways. As I ponder on those questions, I can only marvel at the grace of God and thank Him for His revelation. There is much to correct and even as I move to make amends, I see my old nature rising and I am reminded of Ps 139:23-24. Let God be the one that seeks out the issues of your heart and posture. Let Him do the leading that will ultimately make you into a refreshed soul who walks the paths of righteousness, for His name sake.