“For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness“
nor a cloak for covetousness—
A cloak is something alleged as the cause that is not the real cause. A cloak is both a pretext and pretense.
When the gospel team came to Thessalonica, they did not justify the gospel based on misleading suggestions. They did not pretend to be something they were not. Nor did they present themselves as ostensibly something they did not live up to. They did not put on appearances by operating under assumed pretexts. They did not butter up people or use crowd psychology. A “cloak” is a gimmick for enriching oneself.
“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
Covetousness uses a cloak for its own ends. Covetousness is the desire to have more. The New Testament always uses this term in a bad sense (Luke 12:15; Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:19; 5:3; Colossians 3:52; Colossians 9:5; 2 Peter 2:3, 14). Fundamentally, covetousness is a desire for advantage.
Sometimes the New Testament renders “covetousness” extortion (2 Corinthians 9:5). This person is greedy for gain. Covetous people have insatiable desire and avarice. A person with a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions irrespective of need is a covetous person.
“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’” (Luke 12:15).
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel” (Acts 20: 32-33).
The gospel team did not come with pretense to flatter and manipulate their hearers to make money.
“By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” (2 Peter. 2:3).
God is witness
Paul calls upon God to witness the gospel team’s motives (Romans 1:9; 9:1; 2 Corinthians 1:23). God can detect the human heart’s secret coveting.
The desire to have more despite need violates a holy God.
The antithesis of covetousness is contentment. A person with a contented heart is satisfied with her lot. She accepts the will of God for her life.
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
Covetousness is idolatry.
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
Any time Christians cross the threshold into the desire for more and more irrespective of need, they enter idolatry. What they covet becomes their god. God is no longer their ultimate priority, but something else takes His place.
People who join in the idolatry of covetousness also employ phony pretexts to take advantage of others. They use gimmicks as rationalizations for their idolatry.