Scripture: I Tim. 6:6-12
Now what Paul is doing in 1 Timothy 6:6-12 is trying to persuade people not to be covetous. But let’s be real sure that we see how Paul understands this battle against covetousness. He gives his reasons for not being covetous in verses 6-10 (which we will come back to), and then in verse 11 he tells Timothy to shun or to flee all that—to flee the love of money and the desire to be rich, namely, covetousness.
And he says in verse 11b, instead of giving in to covetousness, “aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” Then out of that list he picks “faith” for special attention, and says (in verse 12), “Fight the good fight of the faith.” In essence, then, he says, “Flee covetousness . . . fight the good fight of faith.”
In other words the fight against covetousness is nothing other than the fight of faith. This is one of the clearest proofs that the way to obey the Ten Commandments (one of which is, “Thou shalt not covet!”) is by faith. It’s also proof that covetousness is a state of unbelief.
When you think about it, that’s just what the definition of covetousness implies. We said that covetousness is desiring something so much that you lose your contentment in God. Or: it’s losing your contentment in God so that you start to seek contentment elsewhere. But now this contentment in God is just what faith is.
Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” In other words what it means to believe in Jesus is to experience him as the satisfaction of my soul’s thirst and my heart’s hunger. Faith is the experience of contentment in Jesus. The fight of faith is the fight to keep your heart contented in Christ—to really believe, and keep on believing, that he will meet every need and satisfy every longing.
Well covetousness, then, is exactly the opposite of faith. It’s the loss of contentment in Christ so that we start to crave other things to satisfy the longings of our heart. There’s no mistaking, then, that the battle against covetousness is a battle against unbelief and a battle for faith. Whenever we sense the slightest rise of covetousness in our hearts, we must turn on it and fight it with all our might with the weapons of faith.
The main weapon of faith is the Word of God. So when covetousness begins to raise its greedy head, what we must do is begin to preach the Word of God to ourselves. We need to hear what God says. We need to hear his warnings about what becomes of the covetous and how serious it is to covet. And we need to hear his promises that can give great contentment to the soul and overcome all covetous cravings.