You shall not covet (Exod 20:17).
Defending the vulnerable—the fatherless and the widow—is costly. It is costly because people who profit by oppression will not stand by idly and allow their darkness to be exposed, but will fight back when their interests are threatened. It is also costly because the vulnerable are people in need, requiring resources of time and money and homes and patience and prayer.
Covetousness is essentially desiring what is not appropriate for us to have. It is good to desire a wife but not your neighbor’s wife. The Scriptures also call covetousness idolatry (Col 3:5). It is not difficult to see why. A thankful heart trusts God, glad in God and the good gifts that He has given, but is also content when certain gifts are withheld. Which in the end means that covetousness is a failure of worship, for one who loves and trusts God above all else is content to lose all, knowing that all belongs to God anyway, and that he can never lose God or be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
People who refused to serve God for fear of loss are many. The rich young ruler, despite being promised treasure in heaven if he would follow Jesus, loved his possessions more than the Lord (Mark 10:17-31). Demas deserted Paul because he loved the world (2 Timothy 4:10). The authorities who believed in Jesus refused to openly follow Christ, “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:43). Throughout the Scriptures, the call is plain:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Or, in the words of missionary Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”9
Abortion is a testing ground. It is not the only one, to be sure, but it is one nonetheless.
Our world is weary and guilty with the shedding of innocent blood, much of that the blood of unborn children. And there are powerful and persistent forces intent on ensuring it continues. On one level, the Church has been a bright witness to the Gospel and the blessing of life. For instance, crisis pregnancy centers will not take payment, while abortion clinics require it. Yet on another level, we have been far too timid. The world will know if we are more interested in God— and in the image of God that is in every unborn child and pregnant mother and father in crisis—or in our comfort. In other words, the world will know who we worship—whether we believe that Jesus is more beautiful and worthy than anything we could grasp in this world that is passing away, and whether we love the Lord our God with all our being and our neighbors as ourselves. Our time, our talents, our treasure, and our tears will testify to our loves before a watching world.
Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jeremiah 9:1).
8 Gary A. Haugen, Terrify No More (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005), ix. To learn more about IJM, visit https://www.ijm.org.
9 Elisabeth Eliott, Through Gates of Splendor (Wheaton, IL, Tyndale House, 1981), 172.