Commandment #10   Leave a comment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  Exodus 20:17, NIV.

there are many things in life that I want.  I would love to have new vehicles to drive, a bigger house with a basement, some new clothes would be nice, and more money to do the things I like to do for leisure.  There is nothing wrong with having desires, dreams or goals.  That is not what the 10th Commandment is about.

It would seem that the word “covet” might be best described as a combination of two other words; jealousy and envy.  While similar in nature, these two words have slightly different definitions.  to be jealous is to want something just like someone else has.  “I wish that I had a car just like yours.”  To be envious is to desire what someone else has for yourself – you wish you had it and they didn’t!  “I wish that I had your car.”

The basic understanding here is dealing with unhealthy desires.  It is one thing to want to have something, it is another to want something for wrong reasons or with wrong motives.

For years upon years the lesson has been taught about keeping up with the Joneses.  Diane and I have talked about building a deck on the back of our house.  Our neighbor just built one.  It is OK for Diane and I to still want to build one, but it is not OK for us to want one because of the neighbor’s deck.  See the difference?

Coveting can be dangerous business.  It can cause you to develop an unhealthy view of the owner of the object you desire.  If jealousy says, “I want one,” and envy says, “I want yours,” then the combination says, “I need  one so badly that I wish to deprive you for my own benefit.”  If one is so intent upon getting something away from somebody else, there has to be the presence of unhealthy, unchristian feelings.  It could lead to stealing (Commandment #8) or even worse (Commandment #6).

David got into all kinds of trouble because of his interests in Bathsheba.  Not only did he break several laws and cause her husband’s death, but what mattered most is that he let down the Lord.  He simply wanted something that he had no business wanting.

God is in the business of giving us exactly what we need.  Jesus said that the Lord takes care of the birds by meeting their everyday needs.  If He cares so much for even birds, then how much more He cares for we humans that He created to have dominion over everything, even things like little birds.  To God, you and I are far more valuable than anything else in creation, therefore, He makes sure that our needs are met.  What more could we want?  (Matthew 6:25-34).

One of my favorite hymns is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.  A friend of mine preached one of our revivals a few years ago.  He talked about his approach to this song, and how changing one word can make the chorus more meaningful (to me anyway).  When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of this earth, according to the song, become strangely dim.  This does make sense.

But it also makes sense to substitute the word “clear” for “dim.”  We live our lives every day accompanied by the Holy Spirit of God within us.  We have jobs, classes, families, and all kinds of elements we encounter in daily living.  If we focus our attention on walking every day with the Lord, then we can surely count on His guidance as we encounter this thing called life.  With the Lord by our side and in our hearts, the things of earth become strangely clear.

When this happens, our desires will always be healthy and proper.

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