Summary: Coveting—our envy of another’s possessions and blessings has the potential to destroy our relationship with God and with others. A life of thankfulness and gratitude is commanded instead of coveting.
Exodus 20:17 “Inner Desires”
One of the most popular arguments to persuade parents is, “But mom, dad, everyone’s doing it.” How did this work for you when you were young?
This is the excuse that we use when confronted by the ninth and tenth commandments—the commandments that address the issue of coveting, or envy. We know that it is wrong to covet, but everyone is doing it.
Coveting might be a popular sin to ignore, but it does affect our ability to experience and abundant and free life—the life give to us by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
An AGE OLD PROBLEM
I take a little comfort in the fact that coveting must have been a problem thousands of years ago. About 1,300 BCE, when Moses was given the Ten Commandments coveting was included in them.
Evidently, it is natural for people to covet. That doesn’t mean that it is right, nor does it mean that it adds to the enjoyment of life. Coveting is, though, a common characteristic.
Our society has fed on this truth. We are the most marketed to people in the history of the world. We receive thousands of marketing messages every day. Each of those messages is created to inspire coveting—the desire to want more than what we have.
All of these messages tell us that we will be more if we have more. We are not all that we can be if we don’t have everything that the world has to offer.
Coveting has disastrous results in our lives.
We live in a country that has been abundantly blessed. We are the most affluent society the world has ever known. Yet, our affluence is not having its desired effects.
Few people in America—both Christians and non-Christians—are truly joyful. We are not excited, passionate, or happy about life.
Few people in America are content. We want more. We convince ourselves that we need more. When we don’t have everything that we want, we complain to God. God appears to be stingy rather than generous.
Few people in America are thankful. We nurture an attitude of entitlement rather than an attitude of gratitude.
When we compare ourselves to others we look to see what they have that we don’t. We don’t ask what they need that we can help them acquire. We are so caught up in what we don’t have that we are blind to the needs of others—for example that 1 in 5 children in Arizona wonder where their next meal is coming from.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENT
One of the ways that we can live in light of this commandment is to develop thankfulness. We can challenge ourselves to say “Thank You” to God for the blessings we have received.
We can fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to address the covetousness in their lives. We can use each other for support and accountability.
One of the things that I find useful is the little prayer that we distributed a year or so ago. It goes, “Lord help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I don’t need most of what I want, and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity.”