The Bible warns us against things that can hurt us. One of those things is called covetousness, which is to covet or be greedy. Being greedy or coveting something is wanting the most of something or wanting something you cannot have. When you want what someone else has, you are coveting that thing. Let me explain it in a story.
There was a family of birds. The daddy and mommy birds made a wonderful nest for the three eggs the mommy bird was about to lay. They took turns sitting on their eggs to keep them warm. When they were not sitting on the eggs, they were eating or keeping watch from a high vantage point making sure nothing got to their nest. They would also make sure no one was watching when they flew into the nest. They protected their young even before they hatched.
Finally, the wiggly and hungry birds were out of the confines of their shells. Stretching their wings and bodies on wobbly legs, they immediately began to chirp for food. Farther away you could hear the chirping of the hungry voices. Daddy bird came back with a mouthful of worms. He gave some to mommy bird who ate them then regurgitated, or vomited, them into the baby bird’s mouths. (Gross! Aren’t you glad your mommy doesn’t do that for you?) Then she would take more from the daddy bird and do it again. Over and over she did this. One baby bird always asked for more long after the other two were satisfied.
As the birds grew older, the mommy bird didn’t have to eat the food first. They were big enough to eat it on their own. Mommy bird noticed that one of her babies named Seymour always wanted much more than the other two. Sometimes he would try to take food out of his brother Clyde or his sister Dorothy’s mouths. Seymour wanted much more food than Clyde or Dorothy did. He was growing faster than his brother and sister. Daddy bird said to mommy bird that he was worried that Seymour was getting fat.
Every meal was a struggle to feed the birds. Mommy and daddy would take turns bringing back worms and bugs. Seymour wanted more and more and would shove his brother and sister out of the way so he could be fed first. Then, he would try to snatch food out of their mouths when they were getting their food. It was getting so bad that daddy and mommy bird had a talk with Seymour.
They told him he needed to stop being piggy. They said he could not take food away from his brother and sister. They said it was wrong of him to be so greedy and stingy. Every bird deserved to be fed equally.
Seymour was sad because he didn’t want to share. He wanted the most biggest, fattest, and juiciest worms he could get. He loved the beetles with the wiggly legs because they were fat. Beetles were harder to swallow because they were very big. Dorothy had difficulty swallowing them, so Seymour would take them from her.
Mommy bird didn’t want to give him as much as he had been getting because she was afraid he was getting too fat to fly. He would chirp and chirp and chirp until she would give in to him and give him more. Seymour didn’t want to obey. He coveted the food his brother and sister got and wanted it all for himself. He was greedy.
The birds were getting old enough to start learning to fly. Mommy bird showed them how to flap their wings. They would take turns standing and flapping their wings to make them stronger and stronger. Seymour tried to stand and flap his wings, but it didn’t work very well because his little legs could hardly hold him up and his large tummy made him off balance.
The day came when it was time for them to fly. As was custom among the birds, when a bird was ready to fly, they would climb to the edge of the nest. There, the mommy bird would push them out. Mommy told Clyde to go first. At the edge of the nest, mommy pushed him out, and he started to fall. He soon flapped harder, lifting himself into the air. He was flying! Dorothy had been watching Clyde and started flapping sooner so she wouldn’t drop so far. The two were excitedly flying around the nest.
Mommy and Daddy were so proud of Clyde and Dorothy. Now it was Seymour’s turn. He struggled to get to the top of the nest. Mommy shoved and shoved. Swoosh! Off he went. Down, down he went, flapping as hard as he could but he could not raise himself! Oh, no! He was going to crash to the ground! Daddy and mommy swooped down and each grabbed a wing in their beaks. They could not fly him back to the nest so they landed him safely on the ground. Out of breath, they sat there for a minute. Seymour was shaking with fright. He almost died! Then Daddy bird said, “Son, I know you were eating too much. Now look what just happened. You can’t fly and we can’t get you back to the nest”.
Seymour started to cry. Mommy bird said, “Let’s hop over to the thick grass under the tree.” Daddy bird said he would stay with him that night so he wouldn’t be alone.
Mommy bird and his two siblings flew to the nest. They slept very well that night, unlike Daddy and Seymour who didn’t sleep well at all. They knew snakes, owls, eagles, and other larger animals like foxes, and coyotes could eat them. Seymour was very frightened because he knew if trouble came, he could not fly away.
He finally realized he needed to change his heart attitude and not be so greedy. He knew his being greedy and coveting other peoples food had gotten him in this predicament or situation. He was sorry for what he had done. He told his daddy he was sorry. His daddy forgave him.
Each day his daddy would bring him food and he took a smaller portion than he used to eat. He only ate two worms instead of 10 or 12 that he used to demand to eat. Soon he could flap around much easier.
One day, getting up courage, he tried to fly. He hopped as fast as he could while flapping his wings. He got off the ground a little bit and was able to fly to the top of a thick fallen tree trunk. There were bugs crawling all over it. Yum! It could be a feast! He was hungry. He started to eat; first one, then two. He almost grabbed another when he remembered how he had gotten there. So he just turned and flapped his wings and flew back to the thick grass.
Each day he lost more weight and got stronger because he worked very hard. Each night he was afraid he would get eaten. His fear made him work even more. His daddy was very proud of him. He was proud that Seymour had changed his heart attitude. He knew he was working hard and was not being greedy any more.
One early morning, after drinking dew off the grass and rolling in it for his bath, he hopped and flapped. Swoosh! Off he went, higher and higher, until he got to the nest. Mommy had been watching his progress and was so proud of him. She was proud of the way he had changed his attitude and heart about coveting things and being greedy. Seymour had learned to take just what he needed. He didn’t covet what other’s had. He had learned his lesson. He grew to be a strong fast flier.
Boys and girls, I just told you a pretend story of a bird family. Do you know there are people who act like the bird Seymour? They want the best and the biggest for themselves. They are greedy. They see something someone else has and they covet that thing, wanting it for themselves. The Bible says in Luke 12:15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Jesus doesn’t want us to be greedy or covet things for ourselves. He wants us to share. He wants us to be happy for people who have something we would like to have. Proverbs 15:27a says: He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house.
Someone you know may have a really cool bike, a pretty dress, new shoes, or a new Wii game you wish you had. Be glad for them instead of desiring to have it. Jesus wants us to take just what we need. When you are doing things together in a group, you don’t need to have all the crayons or all the play dough. Jesus wants us to use what we need and share the rest. When you are sitting on a sofa with others don’t take up all the room. Scoot over and let someone else sit there also. Think of others. Learn to be the person who shares and is happy for others and what they have.
Memorized: Proverbs 15:27a says, He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house.
Verses in NKJ unless otherwise stated.