By Apostle Aje Pelser, Harvester Reformational Church, Cape Town
2Co 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
2Co 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
2Co 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Wuest’s Translation of Verse 5 sheds more light on the subject:
2 Corinthians 9:5
“Therefore I deemed it necessary to exhort the brethren that they should go before you and make ready your liberal gift which was previously promised, that this might be ready beforehand, thus as a matter of generosity and not as a gift which a covetous spirit would withhold but gives grudgingly under pressure.”
Discern the 3 Realms of Covetousness
1. Physical: material: neighbours goods and possessions, sexual: for example do not covet your neighbour’s wife,
2. Soul: Position; Authority; Favour; Affection; Fame; Success, Experience
3. Spirit: Anointing; Power and Authority over demons; Grace and Ability. Understand that it is a spirit.
1 Kings 21 is the account of Ahab and Jezebel’s covetousness, where Nabboth was killed for his vineyard. God sae it and proclaimed through his prophet Elijah that they would die there at that place of covetousness. The prophetic discerns this spirit of covetousness and exposes it.
There was a beautiful building I liked once and then all of a sudden I saw a church that I did not rate very highly occupy the building. Immediately the Holy Spirit gave me a third option of thinking: “Rather say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
That helped me every time I drove past the building to overcome the spirit of covetousness that often plagues church relations. Rejoice that Christians have occupied it – it could have been another religion! Now God has helped us to build our own church but we had to be content within ourselves before that ever happened in order to receive it! Remember we are in the same queue to receive from Our Father in Heaven.
When the early church was becoming a unified force in the city, people were contributing to the move of God by selling their possessions. This significant in the historical context of Jerusalem that would be destroyed in a war with Rome later in AD 70 like Jesus prophesied. SO the land and properties they were selling was in fact preparing their escape growing their standing in the faith. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to have the same spiritual standing without the sacrifice and it was exposed and they fell down dead for lying to the Holy Spirit, not just to Peter and the apostles who were distributing the proceeds of the things sold. They coveted spiritual grace and also wanted to enter the sacrifice but with deceptive intentions. People do that to seem spiritual sometimes. When we bought the church land some people gave out of their poverty. One lady gave her car and decided to walk to church – she was a pensioner. Now her grandchildren are going to serve the Lord in the building that she helped to provide for through her sacrificial giving.
When I visited my friend in his Church in Nigeria, he showed me the beautiful Italian design building on the slope of a hill in Onitsha and I asked him about it. He said when they started to build people left the church and many decided not to give anything. When the church was built people returned and came to enjoy the building with those who had to give sacrificially. Not much has changed since the early church.
When we have missions’ auctions often the same people are sponsoring missions and buying artwork. I visit their homes and they have many spiritual trophies on the wall testifying of their support. Some people in our move have never sponsored a single mission but will cheer along and even boast about the fact that we are reaching over 122 nations to date. Same thing again!
Consider how the spirit of covetousness defiles other areas of church life and makes life difficult for those who are working, giving, serving and sacrificing, making disciples and fulfilling the great commission. It is the picture of carrying a piano up a staircase. Have you ever tried to carry a piano up a staircase? It is one of the most difficult things to do because there are no handles and the shape of a baby grand piano means you have to play ‘Tetris’ with it to get it up the stairs!
There is always one guy that decides to have a back problem when you are going up. We had such a student once who always directed others while he did not lift a finger. This was true spiritually about him in the end. He quickly sided with people against us and the church when his opportunity came.
How covetousness works:
Apostle Paul overcame this spirit because he probably coveted the top position of the Pharisee sect to become High Priest. See Romans 7:7 where he mentions covetousness as an example of personal sin. He was taught under Gamaliel a respected teacher of the Law, a Pharisee who warned the council about treated the apostles badly. (Acts 5:34; 22:3) and was probably ear-marked for success. This Christian Sect stood in his way and looked like an opportunity to advance his career further and led to him making havoc of the church, imprisoned men and women and consenting to the death of Stephen the first Christian Martyr. Later after Jesus had knocked him off his horse on the way to Damascus near Calvary, he realized that he was actually persecuting Jesus, not merely his followers. His encounter with the living Christ near the place of crucifixion helped to crucify his old covetous self so much so that in his letters he wrote: “I have coveted no-one’s silver or gold or apparel” Acts 20:33.
1. You desire something before or after others have received it.
2. When they have it – be it success, or favour or even a relationship, you are upset because you did not get it. The spirit of covetousness will ask: “Why them and not me?”
3. The lie sounds like this: “I should have achieved this by now,”
4. Or: “I deserve to have that.” Nabboth’s vineyard is a good example here.
5. Where there is covetousness, there is the combination of a Jezebel and Ahab spirit of manipulation and control. The weakness is leveraged by covetousness and is turned into jealousy, envy and in extreme cases murder. Cain killed Abel because his sacrifice was received while Cain’s was rejected. Cain did not listen to God’s instructions but was angry because Abel did. Covetousness blinded Cain so much that he went beyond human rationale and operated in the wrong spirit towards his brother.
Signposts to help Identify Covetousness:
1. At first, thoughts enter in the first person: that is the deceiver sowing the seeds of covetousness.
2. A General lack of contentment and sense of under achievement sets in and ruins every good moment creating a spirit of bitter envy.
3. There is an Inability to rejoice when others are blessed, favoured, promoted and in the spiritual sense sent to work for God.
4. The accuser tempts people to steal or take what does not belong to them.
5. Eventually the orchestration of others to get what you want instead of obtaining it through faith and patience.
6. Operating out of hatred and jealousy to hurt others for gain.
How to Overcome Covetousness
1. Repent of any covetousness
2. Remedy covetousness through giving tithes and offerings and celebrating with others. You are in the same queue of provision from the same Father God.
3. Thanksgiving to God in prayer and praise and worship will cultivate the right spirit within you and set you free from the constant pining of the devil for what He actually can’t get or never will have.
4. See that it is a projection of the accuser onto your soul that you need to overcome. The truth in this case will always set you free.
5. Believe that God is able to give you an abundance for every good work – the fact that there is a doubt that God will provide opens the door for covetousness. By applying faith that comes through hearing of the preached word, you can systematically and continually overcome the covetousness spirit at its source of entry. Isn’t that wonderfully good news?
Prayer to Overcome the Spirit of Covetousness
I bind the spirit of covetousness in the name of Jesus and I cast it out of my physical body, thoughts, words, desires, and spirit. Thank You Jesus for making complete provision for every good work in my life and thank you that I am free from the spirit of covetousness once and for all. Build a positive stronghold of faith and thanksgiving with godliness and contentment which is great gain for my spirit, soul and body in Jesus’ name. Amen.