It was 1873, Canada had been a nation for 6 years and Sir John A MacDonald was the Prime Minister. All was somewhat quiet here in Canada but our sovereign, Great Britain, was having a controversy on an unusual topic and circumstance.
In that year of 1873, an astonishing 411 British ships sank and 1000’s of men went to their watery graves. To make matters worse for the sailors is once they signed up for a voyage they couldn’t back out. The law firmly supported the ship owners and it was a criminal offence to “jump ship”. In fact, 1 out of 3 prisoners in southern England was a sailor. And many had refused to go on the voyage when they saw the ship they were to board. They called them ‘coffin ships’.
Ships were being overloaded, the ship owners didn’t fear sinkage because often the insurance received was more profitable. So they filled the ships to the brim and more. Owners couldn’t lose, the sailors could lose everything.
Ships needed a load line as she sat in the water so that when being loaded the ocean water would not rise above her safe capacity. Like Ferdinand Magellan’s ship, The Trinidad, which shows no load limit line and sank.
Much like ships, people need a load line in our lives, someway to show our capacity and a means to not overload. Remember, most overloaded ships sink in a storm, even a small storm.
Entering onto the scene was a man called Samuel Plimsoll whose mission in life became to have each ship with a load limit line to save sailors lives. He entered into politics, was elected and for the next 14 years labored to see an “Unworthy Vessel’s Act” passed into law. It finally happened in 1875, a load line was placed on all ships and to this day they call it the Plimsoll Line.
Every ship was required to show their load limit by painting onto the ship’s hull a line, a Plimsoll line.
Samuel Plimsoll’s Ship with it’s load limit line
Now if people were ships how would their loads look like.
What would people look like today, are they carrying a small and manageable load or would they look like Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. A huge load and burden. Heavy or light, what do you think? What kind of load do you have?
This is what I see.
People carrying way too much of a load, too much stuff on their backs, and I see that people want more, people striving for more everywhere. People craving for more. More money, more material things, more fun and vacations, more friends, more relationships.
People looking at others and desiring what they have, and people discontented with what they have. Hearts set on MORE and in doing so people are unhappy and never satisfied.
THIS IS WHAT I SEE IN ME, IN US AND I SEE IT ALL AROUND ME.
There is a load limit to what people can carry and when in our discontentment we want more than our load limit, we covet. We crave for more, we strive for what other people have, and in this discontentment, we covet, we sin. God gives us a navigational tool when God says to each of us, don’t covet. When the world is changing all around us, don’t covet, when we’re in unchartered waters and direction is scarce, don’t covet. (COVET definition: yearn to possess, crave/desire to possess, envy)
In sun or in storm,
In poorness or in wealth
In bad relationships or poor relationships
In little possessions or much
When you have much, when you have little
When others have fun and much enjoyment
In sickness or in health
Never, ever covet because you’ll sail your life’s ship in the wrong direction if you covet
We should banish our desires for whatever doesn’t belong to us. Don’t covet, don’t envy.
One of the ways you can use to navigate is to know the wrong direction, if you know the wrong direction you can avoid going that way. It’s a negative navigational tool. Same in life, coveting is the wrong direction according to God
Exodus 20: 17 “You shall not covet …”
Let’s read what Jesus said remembering that Jesus is our true north guiding star in life. Every action by Jesus and every word gives us direction in our lives.
This is from the King George Version, an amplified paraphrase:
Jesus said. “Don’t fuss or worry about what’s on the table at mealtimes, don’t strive for more and fancier and don’t worry about the clothes in your closet if they are in fashion, don’t covet those things. There are more important things to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. So don’t covet for more.
I can’t recall ever hearing a sermon on coveting. The idea is that I want more, it’s not what I have anymore but what I don’t have that drives me. It’s our culture for sure but it’s also in us in many ways. Not contented but coveting for more is in our hearts.
In the world of work, the hot button is not the IPO market (Initial Public offering of stocks), being a WEB entrepreneur, our insatiable appetite for portfolio growth, higher income or more vacations, no, the hot button for discussion is; how much is enough? How much wealth, how much income, how much do you need to satisfy you. Our coveting tells us, more, more than I have right now.
And so our ships face in the wrong direction and sail on, never ever reaching the destination.
So far in this series of sermons entitled Discovering God’s way in a changing world, we have talked about:
-our desperate need of direction from God because our world has changed so much and we’re sailing in unchartered waters
-that our navigational north star is Jesus, every word and action of Jesus gives us good and true direction
-that the Bible helps us navigate life because it’s words are true and unchangeable
-and then our need to have a generous attitude because this emulates Jesus and God has been so generous with us
-last week, we explored conscience, not letting your conscience be your guide but rather let your humble-attitude-conscience help you navigate life
-and today, don’t covet, be content, coveting leads us in a wrong direction
The Bible says clearly and Jesus unequivocally supported that 10th commandment, Do NOT COVET. But what else does the Bible say? Paul writes to his spiritual son Timothy with these words.
1 Timothy 6: 6-12 The Message
6-8 A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. (Don’t covet for more)
9-10 But if it’s only money these leaders (people) are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust (and coveting) for money (Coveting for anything) brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.
11-12 But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. …
Don’t covet: the Greek word covetousness means ‘a desire to have more’.
A survey was taken that asked people how much cash would it take to free them from a desire to have more. Surprisingly, the answer was $50,000. Debts paid and now I’m free.
Baloney. Enough is never enough, the more you get the more you want, as acquisitions increase so do aspirations.
What did the richest man in the world who had more money than Warren Buffet or Bill Gates say:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
How do I sail my life’s ship in an ocean of culture coveting? It’s all around me.
A) Look at yourself, evaluate, see what direction are you heading
B) Sensitize yourself to the dangers of coveting
Coveting, corrupts our view of God’s truth -God is not God
Coveting contaminates our values -we value money most
Coveting capsizes our lives -we steer in the wrong direction
Coveting chokes our faith -God won’t supply what I think I need
C) Cultivate a heart of contentment
Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Contentment is not about self-sufficiency but rather Christ-sufficiency. It is not resignation to being poor but satisfaction in Christ. It is not surrender of ambition but submission to Christ. It isn’t about complacency or passivity or detachment from the world. No, no, no. Contentment is the ability to get out of a situation everything that is in it. It is a satisfaction that what you have is a gift from God and enjoying every ounce of worth in it.
A covetous life is a selfish life, and a wrong direction to sail your ship.
I once talked with a church goer who stated that when he made his anticipated wealth he was going to give $1000s to the church. He was a driven man to succeed and earn his millions, heart focused on wealth, living over his means now because he was going to earn lots more soon. Coveting more and more, money, toys, vacations. I told him God wasn’t interested in his thousands tomorrow but the quarter he had in his pocket today. In fact, God was interested in his heart affections today.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
D) Develop a lifestyle of limits, not luxury
E) Cultivate generosity not greed
F) Emphasize personal worth not net worth
G) Invest in the eternal
Exodus 20 (NIV)
20 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, …
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image (AN IDOL) …
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, …
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. …
12 “Honor your father and your mother, …
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, car, wife, wealth, health, vacations or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
God said “You shall not covet. WRONG DIRECTION!
February 16, 2020