The word “covetous” is translated by three words in the Greek New Testament.
Epithumeo means “to fix the desire upon.”
Zeloo is translated “covet earnestly” in 1 Corinthians 12:31(KJV — used in a good sense).
Orego means “to stretch after,” thus “covet after” is the way it is rendered in 1 Timothy 6:10 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary, p. 254-55).
The word “covet” usually connotes a negative disposition. Paul wrote to the Colossians that “covetousness is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).
But there is nothing wrong with “fixing one’s desire upon” a thing or “stretching after” something — depending upon the object for which one reaches. For that reason, the word is used in a positive sense when the object for which one seeks is good.
We know that the Christian should never covet worldly things (cf. Col. 3:1-3; 1 Jn. 2:15). It is the goal, however, of Christians to be “coveted” by people around them. When we exemplify Christ in our lives, good and honest hearts will say with sincerity and zeal, “I want what you have.”
The Christian’s quality of life is noticed by friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, and there is no worldly or material explanation for it. This is the goal of which the Lord spoke, when he said, “Even so let your light so shine before men; that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
So what does the Christian have? What do some “want” when they sincerely contemplate the life of a child of God?
The Christian “Has Peace with God”
“Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
This tranquility of mind is the result of being right with God. This is no mere emotion, although it is wonderful and gratifying. It is the understanding that sin separates us from God (Eph. 2:1), and that Jesus Christ has died for our sins (1 Jn. 2:1-2). It is the action one takes to “get himself right with God,” through the plan that the Lord has disclosed in the Sacred Scriptures (Heb. 5:9; Mark 16:16).
Understanding what God did, and doing what the Lord requires, results in peace — a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
Christians “Have grace”
Paul reminds us that as Christians, “we have grace.”
“...through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom. 5:2a).
“Justified” (v. 1) is equivalent to being “acquitted.” We are, however, not acquitted because we are innocent, for “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). We are “made right with God” because Christ Jesus suffered the penalty for us, and this is the grace of God in action. We have access to the favor of God, which we could never earn nor deserve, through the death of Jesus. And it is in the favor of God that his faithful children remain.
Christians “Have Hope”
“... and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2b).
Being right with God is important because of the future. Judgment awaits all (1 Tim. 4:1), and we must be prepared to “meet our Maker” (Heb. 9:27).
Christians can have confidence about the future. If a child of God lives faithfully until death, he or she will go to heaven (1 Jn. 5:13; Rev. 2:10). This realization ought to motivate every Christian for diligent service (Heb. 4:11).
Here is how Paul describes the Christian hope: “We hope in the glory of God.” The future is awesome to contemplate. The word “awesome” may be one of the most over-used superlatives, but when used of the “hope of the glory of God,” it does not seem adequate. To be in the presence of God, our Creator and Redeemer, will be wonderful.
We also realize, from Scripture, that the child of God will possess a glorious spiritual body in heaven like that of the Son of God himself (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Jn. 3:1-3). The Christian lives in view of the future — being the presence and possession of glory.
Christians “Have Joy”
“... and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us” (Rom. 5:2-5).
This could be described as insight into the meaning of life. Children of God even view the anxieties and tragedies of life with a divine perspective — with an understanding that this world is not all that matters. When the experiences of life make us long for heaven, we can view distressing times with an element of joy. Anything that makes us want to go to heaven is of great spiritual value.
Christians “Have Love”
“For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him” (Rom. 5:6-9).
The Children of God have learned and experienced the saving love of God. We’ve seen the proof of God’s love, and we have enjoyed its benefits. We constantly develop a greater appreciation for it (Eph. 3:17-19).
What we have, the world needs. May God help us to love and live the Christian life. When we do, someone will notice, and they’ll want what we have been given.