Ed. Note: “The Biggest Lesson (TBL)” is a series on the biggest lesson I’ve learned in life written to mark my birthday this year (March 23, 2015). May you be blessed as you follow the series. Amen.
  Opening Question: How would you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when _______________”?   **********   “Who ate Dele’s food?”   Silence. The Nursery 1 classroom was as quiet as a grave yard. Mrs Yusuf shouted the question a second time, so loud that I died inside, but I kept mute.   “Who ate Dele’s food?!”   Still no response.   I can’t remember how the episode ended, but I remember how it started…over twenty years ago. I was in Nursery 1—fresh out of Pre-Nursery school. The tradition was that each pupil that came to school with a food flask submitted the food flask inside a wooden trough constructed for that purpose at the back of the classroom. During the “break time”, each pupil goes for his or her flask, takes a seat, join the rest of the class to chorus a prayer over the food, invite “Aunty” to come and eat and banish Satan to go away. Aunty always replied “thank you”, but Satan? I don’t know. Perhaps, he stayed behind on that fateful day.   For whatever reason, I didn’t come with a food flask that day. The sight of other pupils’ food flasks at the back of the classroom aroused my appetite. The lure was too great to resist. So during the “break time”, I joined the rush to the wooden trough and picked a rather big food flask. I took a seat, joined the chorus, invited Aunty, but forgot to send Satan away. So I sat and ate the rice and beans, fully conscious that the food belonged to someone else. I finished the food and returned the flask to the trough.   My desire was satisfied, and it seemed at first that I pulled through successfully. Minutes later, the dumb that owned the flask finally came to his senses, went for his flask but met it empty. He called Aunty’s attention to it and she investigated the mishap. I was the last suspect. In fact, Mrs Yusuf asked me if I took note of the person that picked the flask while I went to the trough for my own food. I was tempted to accuse someone else, but I turned down the urge and simply said “No.”   That’s how much I could remember—but that was my initiation into the most populated prison in the world—the prison of W-A-N-T. Besides being the most populated prison, it is also the most oppressive and most permanent prison in the world. Most inmates never leave. They serve a life sentence in this overcrowded facility.   Don’t get me wrong, the impulse for WANTING is a very necessary part of being human. Without it, people would be inactive and unmotivated. However, it is also true of humans that naturally, we tend to desire more than we need (unlike plants and animals). We always want something—something bigger, nicer, faster, or thinner. And we always want “just a little more”. It is called covetousness!    And the terrible thing about coveting is that it is a seed sin! It opens the gate for more sins. I coveted someone else’s lunch, and so I stole and lied! In fact, the Bible tells us that coveting was the original sin behind the fall of man (Genesis 3:6).  
  • Gehazi coveted, lied and clinched a generational leprosy! (2 Kings 5:22-25).
  • Achan coveted, stole and orchestrated a generational burial (Joshua 7:21-26).
  Page after page, the Bible is filled with such stories.[1] And so is our daily experience. Coveting is a powerful, yet underestimated sin that can cripple one spiritually and ultimately destroy one’s soul. Yet, it is hard in our culture to be content with what we have!   The way out? CONTENTMENT! That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned (and still learning) in my few days spent on earth.  
  • I’ve learned that “What I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.”
  • I’ve learned that “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labour that he can carry in his hand” (Ecclesiastes 5:15 NIV).
  • I’ve learned that “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 MSG).
  • I’ve learned that “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).
  Heaven does not know you as the fellow with the latest iPad or the lady with the Brazilian hair or the kid with the new bike. Heaven knows your heart. When God thinks of you, He may see your compassion, your devotion, your tenderness or quick mind, but He doesn’t think of your things.   And when you think of you, you shouldn’t either. If you define yourself by your stuff, you’ll feel good ONLY when you have a lot and bad when you don’t.   Back to our opening question. What is the one thing separating you from joy? When will you be truly happy? How would you fill in this blank: “I will be happy when _______________”?  
When I am healed? When I am promoted? When I am married? When I am single? When I am rich? How would you finish that statement?
  Now, with your answer firmly in mind, let’s take it further.  
What if your ship never comes in? What if the situation never changes? What if your dream never comes true? Could you still be happy?
  If not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent. You are in prison. And you need to know what I have learned.   As I count down to March 23, each day, I will drop by with a nugget on how to build contentment—#TheBiggestLesson I’ve learned.   See you here, soon…with Episode 2.   With Jesus Joy,Ola Joseph Kolawole.   ____________________ [1] Both the Old and New Testaments point out that coveting is the root of many forms of sin, including lying (2 Kings 5:22-25), theft (Joshua 7:21), domestic troubles (Proverbs 15:27), murder (Ezekiel 22:12), lust (1 Timothy 6:9), greed (Proverbs 1:19), envy (Titus 3:3), and jealousy (1 Corinthians 3:3). THESE ARE ALL MANIFESTATIONS OF UNCONTROLLED DESIRE TO ACQUIRE.