Even as a child, I can remember coveting things that other people possessed. One day I was playing at my cousin’s house when one of his toys caught my eye. I begged to take it home, and when my parents refused me the pleasure, I cried and created quite a scene.

My behavior was similar to that of King Ahab—one covetous king. Ahab had a neighbor who owned a vineyard. The king looked at that vineyard and felt that it could be better used as a vegetable garden—his garden. So he made his neighbor Naboth an offer: “I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or if you prefer, I will pay you for it” (1 Kings 21:2).

But Naboth feared God. He knew that He had said, “The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me” (Leviticus 25:23). So Naboth refused Ahab’s offer.

Ahab sulked and “went to bed with his face to the wall and refused to eat!” (1 Kings 21:4). Soon his wife, Jezebel, plotted to have Naboth killed so her husband could snatch his property. After Naboth was murdered, Ahab immediately went down to the man’s vineyard and claimed it as his own.

“If only I had . . .” can be a dangerous way to live. The moment we start thinking “This item or goal is necessary for my happiness in life,” we’ve crossed the line and have begun to covet. The covetous person doubts God’s wisdom, goodness, justice, timing, and—ultimately—His love. To combat covetousness, we must pursue contentment.

George Herbert wrote a wonderful prayer that reflects being content: “Lord Jesus, You have given so much to me. . . . Give me one thing more—a grateful heart. Amen.”

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 7:1-26