In her book The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World, author Melissa Kruger defines coveting as an inordinate or culpable desire to possess, often that which belongs to another. In describing this type of desire as inordinate or culpable, Kruger highlights the innate dissatisfaction of our covetous hearts. Whatever it is we seek, we are never satisfied and we always want more, more, more. If we do finally get whatever it is we think we want, we end up wanting something else. It’s a vicious cycle: the more we have, the more we want.
Kruger makes an important observation when she asserts that the cry of the covetous is that “It’s not fair!” Our sense of entitlement coupled with our propensity to compare with others results in the belief that however the Lord has blessed someone else then we have a right to that privilege as well. In fact, at the heart of coveting is the sin of unbelief: we believe that the Lord is withholding something from us and thus we doubt His goodness and His sovereignty over our lives.
By examining the sin of Eve in Genesis 3 and the sin of Achan in Joshua 6, Kruger unfolds the pattern of coveting: see, covet, take and hide. Seeing and coveting we understand. Taking naturally causes us to think of the physical act of stealing. However, Kruger is careful to explain the various ways we can take from others and from God when we indulge in the sin of coveting: we may take in the form of not giving of our financial resources or when we gossip or in holding back friendship or other ministry opportunities. Certainly we take from the Lord when we rob Him of the glory due His name by seeking it for ourselves.
There is power over coveting and that is the cross of Christ. Here is the real strength of this book: Kruger’s consistent and insistent focus on the work of Christ in overcoming the sin of discontent and coveting. Over and over she points to the example of Jesus and to the power granted us by His Spirit. The pattern of coveting can be broken by:
Seeking the Lord instead of seeing
Desiring rightly instead of coveting
Giving generously instead of taking
Confessing freely instead of hiding
The latter part of the book is devoted to specific areas of a woman’s life where she may be tempted to discontent and coveting: money and possessions, romantic relationships, family and friendship, seasons and circumstances, and, finally, gifting and abilities. In each area, Kruger carefully exposes the pattern of coveting through Biblical examples and then offers hope through the new pattern of seeking and desiring rightly, giving generously and confessing freely.
Whether or not you feel as if you struggle with coveting and envy, I daresay you will find this book challenging and convicting. As I read (and underlined copiously), the truth about areas in my life I am prone to covet was exposed and I found great encouragement in the continual reminder of the hope we have in Christ. Kruger writes to women and for women but the truths she exposits are not unique to women. She presents solid, Biblical exegesis of a difficult yet timely subject and she does so with the kind of straight talk that is both frank and encouraging.
I highly recommend The Envy of Eve.
Thank you to Christian Focus Publications for providing a review copy of this book.