“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17 (KJV)
Coveting. It’s probably one of the most overlooked of the 10 Commandments. In most of our modern societies worldwide how often might we excuse covetousness by calling it consumerism or materialism? I think we are all engaging in this sin more than we really think. But if Jesus is our Lord, thank God we are washed clean!!!
My contemporary translation of this scripture may be something like this… Do not want the house across the street but be content with your own. Don’t desire someone else’s wife or husband but be faithful to your own. Do not want the wealth of that family who can afford to have someone else mow their yard or clean their house. Do not want his PlayStation 3, her HD 50″ TV, or their 2012 Red Prius whose gas tank only costs half as much to fill as it does your 1999 SUV, if you’re lucky. Don’t want any of their blessings for yourself- even if they have that brand new furniture set you really liked from Ikea! But God wrote this commandment with His own hand so I’m not going to pretend like it needs updated! God knew exactly what He was saying, and He’s still saying it.
As I’ve said several times throughout my devotions on the 10 Commandments, though we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ it is still as important as ever to be obedient to the commands of God. We don’t sin more just because grace abounds more. We want to be obedient because we’re thankful for the salvation of our souls and He is working in us the process of sanctification and holiness. If we love Jesus, we will obey.
But I think this commandment is telling us more than not to covet. I think it is telling us to be content with our own lives. This doesn’t mean that we should not work to be more financially stable or to provide better food or clothing for our families or to accumulate wealth so we can give more to the poor. To be content means to live satisfied and happy in your present circumstances, to work for needs and for giving not for simple wants, and to prefer others be blessed before you desire your own blessing. That is HARD! But Christ dwells in us and is able to do more than we could ever imagine in us and through us if we are submitted.
SO… as we rest in grace and build our faith let’s also remember that coveting is very real. It’s a sin. It comes in many disguises. And it often brings friends: envy, greed, lust, fear.
God is a good God and He will provide for all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19) I want to be obedient.
“Lord forgive me for coveting my neighbor’s good fortune, including their wealth, their new stuff, their big houses and shiny cars, their job, their outward beauty and appearances, their comforts and their popularity. Forgive me for wanting a life like their life instead of seeking your will for mine and pursuing that alone. Forgive me for not being content and always wanting more. Thank you for taking care of my wife and I. You are our Lord. In Jesus’ name. I praise you! Amen.”