The Envy of Eve
Book review: Melissa Kruger offers insight and challenge for Christians looking for contentment in a covetous world.
Recently I was speaking with a pastor’s wife living in the UK who was brought up in eastern Europe in the Communist era. She described how she felt challenged on being discontent during lockdown as she remembered her childhood in Romania.
Her friends and family members suffered joyfully for the sake of Christ, even though their freedom was restricted and some even spent time in prison.
Listening, I rebuked myself at my own discontentment.
The Sin of Covetousness
For many of us, contentment is elusive. We long to echo the testimony of the apostle Paul who wrote: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Melissa Kruger has written an insightful and challenging book about how Christians can find contentment in a covetous world. She writes with warmth and ease as she defines a covetous heart and shows how covetousness is sinful and leads to other sins.
Covetousness is the antithesis of contentment.
Melissa traces covetousness in the life of Eve. Eve looked at the desirable forbidden fruit and she coveted it. She took it and then tried to hide from God but her sin led to terrible consequences. Our covetousness follows a similar pattern to the envy of Eve: see, covet, take, hide. Melissa identifies a similar pattern in the life of Achan (Joshua 7).
The Triumph of Christ
Melissa helps readers see the triumph of Christ who breaks this pattern and succeeds where Eve and Achan failed. Satan tempted Christ to despair of his Father’s goodness, to presume upon his Father’s power, and to alienate his Father’s honour (Matthew Henry), but Jesus did not succumb to these temptations.
Through the cross of Christ, we are given new power over an old pattern: when we see something we don’t have we are to seek the Lord; when we are tempted to covet we are to desire what is right; when we want to take we should give; when we hide our sin we should confess.
Melissa applies this pattern to coveting money and possessions: within romantic relationships (David and Bathsheba); in family and friendship (Joseph’s brothers); in seasons and circumstances (the Israelites in the desert); regarding giftedness and abilities (the envy of Korah).
This book encourages deep soul-searching but we are reminded that God’s power is given to help us overcome temptation and live a life to his glory. Melissa gives helpful personal examples of struggling with coveting which women will readily identify with.
It is theological but not dry, it is biblical and pastorally applied, it warns against being ensnared in sin but gives us the tools to fight temptation, and it points to the grace and power of Christ and the forgiveness of the gospel.
This is a great book to read on your own or as part of a women’s book group.
Pertinent and searching questions are at the end of each chapter. You won’t feel condemned but inspired and helped to learn to be content in a world which cries out that life isn’t fair and encourages us to take what isn’t ours rather than resting in God’s gracious provision, supremely displayed in our glorious Saviour.