Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Envy of Eve

If there was a book I was tempted to quote from incessantly, it's this one.  But I will control myself and only put in a few gems.

Coveting is not a sin exclusive to women, but this is a book aimed at women and the specific ways women are tempted to covet.  The book's message is not, "Coveting is wrong, stop doing it."  Instead it goes deeper into what coveting actually is.  It's a sin that flows from the unbelief in our hearts - not something that is based on our circumstances.  We justify our coveting by insisting that if our circumstances were different, we wouldn't do it.  But that isn't true.   Covetousness is described as a 'mother sin' which leads to other sins.  Adultery begins first with the covetous desire of lust.  Stealing begins with envy of that which belongs to another.  Our covetous desires do not simply stay in the inner reaches of our hearts (page 32).  Reading this book is like holding a mirror up to our hearts. It's like going to a psychologist and telling them, "I've got a problem with this," and they reply, "No, your problem is actually this."

One of the ways coveting destroys relationships between women is that they often tear down the woman they envy.  They tell her that what she has really isn't so good to mask the fact that they desire it for themselves.  They compared their lot to another and felt they came up short (page 35).  This can often lead to them avoiding the woman whose giftedness, experiences, possessions, or relationships they covet. 

A good question to ask is, how do I know whether my desire is good or covetousness; e.g. how do I know whether my desire for a husband has turned into idolatry?  The book provides the following four heart checks:
  • The object of our desire is wrong
  • The means to go about obtaining our desire is wrong
  • The motivation for our desire is wrong
  • The attitude while waiting for our desire is wrong (page 36)
In other words, how we handle disappointment is a good indicator of whether or not we are coveting.

Melissa B. Kruger, the author of this book, uses a number of examples of biblical figures (Eve, David, Judas etc) whose downfall came because they coveted.  The pattern of coveting springs from our unbelief in God's good character and can often be revealed in the following steps:
  • We see
  • We covet
  • We take
  • We hide - from God and others.  We hide either because we are ashamed of what we have done or because we still want to hold onto whatever we have taken unlawfully....We hide our anger, discontentment and lack of joy by attempting to explain the difficulty of our circumstances.  Our gossip is hidden under the guise of prayer requests and openness....Our hiding separates us from relationship with others as well as closeness to God (page 86).
The book examines the we see, covet, take and hide pattern in the various ways women are tempted to covet:
  • Money and possessions
  • Romantic relationships (yep, I've been there when I was single)
  • Family and friendship (ouch, yes!)
  • Seasons and circumstances (ouch, ouch!)
  • Giftedness and abilities (yep, still dealing with that one)
We all have our temptations and struggles which spring from our lack of trust in God's sovereignty over our lives.  But, despite it sounding like this book is one big guilt-trip, it's actually one that offers tremendous hope, and that hope is the cross of Christ.  Jesus was tempted in every way we are, yet was without sin.  He triumphed over it in His death and resurrection so that we might have His perfect righteousness.  For that reason, I think the chapter, The Power of Coveting: The Cross of Christ should be at the end and not halfway through the book.  For He does not simply save us and leave us to wallow in our covetousness.  Bit by bit, He is at work in us.

This is a book I highly recommend all Christian women read and is it relevant to all of us, regardless of our season of life.  In fact, it's a book that would be great to read in a group such as a book club as it has discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

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