“How does he do that?” It was a question I asked more than once. Probably closer to a dozen times in the last four days. It was directed about my father-in-law. It was both a genuine question and a question brought out by the Sin in my own heart.
Last Wednesday my family and I went out to a cabin on the lake with my in-laws. The idea was to fish. And then when we were done fishing, fish some more. My youngest son caught one fish the entire trip (technically, the trip was over, but we went to Miller Dam to try our rods and reels out one last time). My other children did not do much better. My wife got a few, I got perhaps four, but that’s probably the fisherman in me (it was probably only three). But my father-in-law, he caught upwards of twenty or even more (and that is no lie). I would say to my wife over and over again, “How does he do that?” As I said, it was both a genuine question and one brought on by the sin of my own heart; that sin was envy or perhaps covetousness or perhaps both.
Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness,” (Mark 7:21-22, ESV). The word coveting here simply means to be greedy. It is desiring more than one has or deserves. How often do I go fishing? Not often. Perhaps once or twice a year. How often does my father-in-law go fishing? Throughout the spring and summer. Who deserves to get more fish? He does. He has practiced at it. He has learned the tricks of the trade. Have I? If I had, I would not be asking, “How does he do that?” I deserve what I got. In fact, looking back, I probably got more than deserved. The idea of envy actually carries with it the idea of “the evil eye.” It’s that if looks could kill look. One acquires that look (perhaps more inwardly than outwardly) after fishing for hours with nothing to show, while someone fishing three feet away is reeling them in like there’s no tomorrow.
I love my father-in-law. I never gave him that look, nor did I have that look within me toward him. But I did sin the sin of coveting and I can absolutely see myself going to that of envy if I am not careful. It is bad enough I have the one blatant and glaring sin set before me. Paul wrote, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” (Colossians 3:5, ESV; italics mine). That doesn’t say “which are idolatry,” but “which is idolatry.” In other words, the sexual immorality, impurity, passion, and evil desires, as bad as they are, are not idolatry; Paul was specifically speaking about covetousness being idolatry. Why? Because covetousness is discontentment and desiring what God has not given you this desiring something more than God (though one may argue that the others are forms of covetousness).
So now it is time to go to war against my flesh, my own heart as it has made an idol out of fish. The “spirit” of Dagonites rests within my heart so quietly and has sprung upon me in a single (or rather multiple moments) in the last week. To arms!