There is more said in the Bible against it than against drunkenness. I must get it out of me . . . destroy it, root and branch . . . and not let it have dominion over me. We think that a man who gets drunk is a horrid monster, but a covetous man will often be received into the church, and put into office, who is as vile and black in the sight of God as any drunkard.
The most dangerous thing about this sin is that it is not generally regarded as very heinous. Of course we all have a contempt for misers, but all covetous men are not misers. Another thing to be noted about it is that it fastens upon the old rather than upon the young.
Let us see what the Bible says about covetousness:
Colossians 3:5: Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; . . . and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Ephesians 5:5b: For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, . . . hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
1 Timothy 6:9: But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Psalms 10:3: For the wicked . . . blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
Covetousness enticed Lot into Sodom. It caused the destruction of Achan and all his house. It was the iniquity of Balaam. It was the sin of Samuel*s sons. It left Gehazi a leper. It sent the rich young ruler away sorrowful. It led Judas to sell his Master and Lord. It brought about the death of Ananias and Sapphira. It was the blot in the character of Felix. What victims it has had in all ages!
Do you say: How am I going to check covetousness?
Well . . . I don*t think there is any difficulty about that. If you find yourself getting very covetous . . . very miserly . . . wanting to get everything you can into your possession . . . just begin to scatter. Just say to covetousness that will strangle it, and rid it out of your disposition.
A wealthy farmer in New York state, who had been a noted miser, a very selfish man, was converted. Soon after his conversion a poor man came to him one day to ask for help. He had been burned out, and had no provisions. This young convert thought he would be liberal and gave him a ham from his smoke-house. He started toward the smoke-house, and on the way the tempter said: Give him the smallest one you have.
He struggled all the way as to whether he would give a large one or a small one. In order to overcome his selfishness, he took down the biggest ham and gave it to the man.
The tempter said: You are a fool.
But he replied, If you don*t keep still, I will give him every ham I have in the smoke-house.
If you find you are selfish, give something. Determine to overcome that spirit of selfishness, and to keep your body under, no matter what it may cost.
Mr. Durant told me he was engaged by Goodyear to defend the rubber patent, and he was to have half of the money that came from the patent if he succeeded. One day he woke up to find that he was a rich man, and he said that the greatest struggle of his life then took place as to whether he would let the money be his master, or he be master of money, whether he would be its slave, or make it a slave to him. At last he got the victory, and that is how Wellesley College was built.