When we take our covetousness seriously, we can achieve victory over it.
Evaluate Your Longings
“I craved, I desired, I thought about, and arranged my life around _____.” What goes in the blank, in your life? For the author of Made to Crave, it was food. For you, it may be something else — certain types of clothing, cutting-edge electronics, recreational vehicles, sporting equipment, luxury furnishings, leisure and travel, career plateaus, or even relational progress or family growth.
Anything we desire more than we desire God can cause us to defy the second commandment. We need to get honest with ourselves, before God, about the place our longings take in our lives. When we’re honest and humble before God about them, we’ll repent and ask Him to forgive us. There’s nothing that delights the heart of God more than humble, broken sinners that call on Him for help (1 John 1:9, Psalm 34:18).
Put Desires in Their Place
Even good desires or those we dare not indulge can become problems if we let them become idols in our lives. So how do we stop them from overthrowing God from His throne? Once we’re honest about the desires we’re tempted to make into obsessions, we need to take similar steps as we should when tempted to lust, or covet sexual relationships forbidden by God.
Matthew 5:28 equates lust-filled thoughts with adultery, Job “made a covenant” with his eyes, and Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lusts (Job 31:1, 2 Timothy 2:22). In the same way, we are wise to stay away from whatever tempts us to sin by letting our hearts focus on desires for anything than God.
I once heard the question, referring to sexual lust, “Do you know the difference between a glance and a gaze?” The same evaluation can be helpful in discerning covetous thoughts of any type.
Replace Covetous Thoughts
Just as anxious thoughts need to be replaced with thanksgiving and prayer (Philippians 4:6), all kinds of sinful patterns need to be “put off,” and godly ones “put on” (Colossians 3:1-16).
This “Put Off/Put On Principle” can be illustrated easily if your area of temptation is unhealthy food. Whenever you’re tempted to grab an unhealthy snack, you could reach for fruit, instead. (Maybe reaching for a weight set or your Bible would be even better.)
Obviously, that would require planning ahead in having fruit (or exercise equipment or a Bible) available. It would also require replacing the thinking that chocolate will make whatever it is better, so perhaps you could memorize a verse like Psalm 62:2 about God (not chocolate) as your stability and strength.
Whenever that craving comes for something other than God to help you cope with difficulty, repeating that verse and that action can help them become knee-jerk reactions, in time.
For those who covet, repenting and then replacing idolatrous thoughts with praise to God is an excellent start. “Indulging” in extravagant forms of worship and service can help fill time and mental energy (and use money) you would otherwise spend on idolatrous thinking and spending. What’s more, you might even find that it’s more fulfilling after all!