Covetousness Meaning In The Bible – Scriptures & Significance

The meaning of covetousness in the Bible.

Coveting is a sin that is strongly discouraged in the Bible. It is defined as having an excessive or selfish desire for something that belongs to another person.

The Word of God clearly states that this type of behavior is wrong and should not be done, as it can lead to severe consequences.

The tenth commandment given by God in the book of Exodus says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s."

This passage shows us how even the small actions of desiring something that does not belong to us are wrong.

Covetousness is also discussed in other scriptures like Proverbs 21:26 which states, "All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous give without sparing."

Here we understand how covetousness leads to never-ending wanting and craving for things instead of living with godly contentment.

When we do not practice contentment and instead comply with our own desires, it can cause us to act unrighteously and sin against the Lord.

The New Testament further reinforces the idea that coveting can lead to failing God's expectations for us by quoting Jesus' words in Luke 12:15, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

We must always remember that the Lord looks at our hearts more than anything else so if we are striving after material possessions instead of godly righteousness, then He will notice and may no longer approve of our actions.

Finally, James 4:2 emphasizes this idea when it says, “You do not have because you do not ask God”, suggesting that if we focus on having godly desires and intentions then God will provide for us what we truly need in life rather than allowing us to give into temptation and sin through coveting what does not belong to us.

Overall, it's important to recognize why the Word of God instructs us not to covet what does not belong to us. Coveting goes against God's instructions and can lead someone away from the righteous path towards destruction.

As Christians, it is vital for Believers to remember these teachings about coveting whenever they experience desires for something belonging to someone else so as to avoid succumbing into sinful behavior.

What is an example of covetousness?

One example of covetousness in the Bible is when King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21. He coveted the vineyard so much that he asked for it, even though it was not his to own. 

Despite Naboth's refusal, Ahab did not give up and instead had him executed so that he could take possession of the property. This illustrates how covetousness can lead to an extreme disregard for other people and their possessions.

The Bible teaches us that God disapproves of our coveting what does not belong to us as it is an expression of greed and selfishness.

We are instructed in Proverbs 23:4 to “be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them”.

When we become too focused on getting something that is not ours and resorting to underhanded means to get it, we become guilty of coveting.

Coveting can manifest itself in many forms such as jealousy or obsession with material possessions or success.

It may also lead us to compare ourselves with others and feel dissatisfied about our own lives, leading us into a downward spiral of discontentment and unhappiness.

God wants us to learn how to be content from Him and trust that whatever He has given us, however small or humble, is enough for His purposes (Philippians 4:11-13).

When we stop comparing ourselves to others or desiring what does not belong to us, we will be walking in wisdom and honoring Him with our thoughts and actions.

Each one of us should therefore seek His counsel so that we may know how best to avoid temptation towards covetousness in our daily lives.

What are the characteristics of a covetous person?

Coveting is defined as having an excessive or selfish desire for something that belongs to another person. A covetous person is often characterized by their focus on material possessions and their willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve what they desire, even if it goes against the wishes of others or God's will.

Covetous people tend to be driven by a sense of entitlement and have difficulty controlling their desires, oftentimes leading them to act inappropriately or immorally in order to get what they want.

They may become obsessed with accumulating more wealth or possessions than those around them, and are willing to use any means necessary - such as lying, cheating, stealing, or manipulating - in order to get what they want.

They also tend to judge other people based on the material possessions they have, rather than on qualities like character, kindness, and generosity.

Additionally, covetous persons often have difficulty being content with what they already have and feel that nothing will ever be enough.

They often suffer from feelings of envy or jealousy towards those who possess things that they don't, which can lead to further unhappiness. 

This behavior can also cause individuals who exhibit these traits to miss out on the joys that come from having meaningful relationships with friends and family members due to their focus on acquiring material goods.

Finally, coveting is seen as a violation of one of the Ten Commandments given by God in Exodus 20:17: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor his manservant nor his maidservant nor his ox nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."

This commandment serves as a reminder for us all that material objects should not be valued above good principles such as faithfulness, contentment and humility.

Therefore, while we should strive for success in our lives through hard work and dedication, we should never allow greed to overtake godly values.


A covetous woman looks at something she wants.


What is the sin of covetousness?

Covetousness, according to the Bible, is a sin and is defined as having an excessive or selfish desire for something that belongs to another person.

This sin has been considered a major transgression since ancient times and is still frowned upon in many cultures today.

In the New Testament, coveting is mentioned in various books including Mark, Romans and Colossians.

The Book of Mark specifically refers to coveting as being related to theft when it says, ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s’.

In Romans 7:7-8 coveting is referred to as coveting with our own eyes and in 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 coveting other people’s possessions is seen as wrong.

Colossians 3:5 mentions coveting again when it states that coveting what belongs to others ‘is idolatry’.

God's Word also speaks against seeking wealth and money beyond what we need and warns us against the dangers of having an excessive materialistic mindset. 

In 1 Timothy 6:10 we are told to “love money not too much nor be consumed by greed”.

Proverbs 23:4-5 warns us against consuming ourselves with thoughts of getting rich quickly, “Do not overwork yourself to become rich; because of your own understanding choose wisely how you acquire wealth”.

In addition to this moral instruction from the Bible concerning covetousness, modern society has several other ways of preventing people from falling into this sin.

For example, laws governing theft exist in most countries around the world and are designed to protect individuals from stealing from each other.

Additionally, meditating on scripture verses can help cultivate a sense of inner peace and contentment which can help combat any excessive desire for wealth or possessions beyond what one truly needs.

Although coveting may seem harmless on its surface, it can have far reaching consequences if left unchecked.

It can lead us down a path where we obsess about acquiring more wealth than we actually need and lose sight of what really matters in life such as spending time with God, with our loved ones, and helping those in need around us. 

Therefore it is important for all individuals to keep their desires under control so they don't get carried away by their pursuit of materialistic gains at the expense of others.

Is coveting the same as jealousy?

Coveting and jealousy have long been considered closely related, and while they do share some common traits, covetousness is still considered a distinct sin in the eyes of God.

God's Word clearly warns us against coveting what is not ours, and tells us to focus our attention on His will instead of coveting what belongs to others.

By coveting something that does not belong to us, we put ourselves in peril of being morally corrupt and displeasing God.

This includes coveting material possessions as well as people.

Jealousy also has an element of covetousness in it, but extends beyond simply wanting what someone else has.

A jealous person may be envious of another person's success, beauty or accomplishments.

Being jealous can also manifest itself in feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem when someone possesses qualities that one does not possess themselves.

It can lead to destructive behavior and unhealthy relationships if not dealt with as it often leads to resentment and envy towards others who may have something one covets.

While both coveting and jealousy are sins in the eyes of God according to Biblical teachings, they are still different sins with different consequences for those who engage in them.

Coveting takes away from the faithfulness we should strive for when serving God while jealousy prevents us from appreciating our own gifts and blessings from Him. 

We must remember that everything we have been given comes straight from God Himself.

We are to be satisfied with His provision rather than trying to take something away from another person which would ultimately displease Him.


Covet Bible Scripture Verses (KJV)

Colossians 3:5 - Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Ephesians 5:5 - For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

1 John 2:15-17 - Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Ephesians 5:3 - But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Hebrews 13:5 - Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Luke 12:15-21 - And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Luke 12:15 - And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Exodus 20:17 - Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


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.

James 4:2 - Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Romans 13:9 - For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


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