Summary: Sermon on the tenth commandment.
AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church March 25, 2007
God’s Top Tep –the 10th commandment “Keeping Our Heart’s Desires In Check”
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As I was writing this morning’s message, I couldn’t help but think about The Flying McCoys comic strip someone had clipped out of a newspaper and laid on my desk a few weeks back. It pictured Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments on them ---as this group of people standing around the bottom of the mountain were watching him. In the middle of the crowd one man speaks up and says “Then it’s agreed. We don’t let him go up that mountain anymore.” Well friends I can tell you that you don’t have to worry about my taking you up on that mountain in this sermon series again for a look at an eleventh commandment. Because there isn’t one. So, relax, take a deep breath and savor the moment ---because we’ve made it. Today’s the last message in our God’s Top Ten sermon series. If you have your Bible with you I encourage you to open it to the book of Exodus and turn to chapter 20. While you’re doing that let me tell you a story---
Her husband had skillfully amassed a multi-million dollar fortune. When her husband learned that he was dying he asked only one thing of her---he told her the entire fortune is yours but please do this one thing, have a will drawn up. He said something to the effect----Since we have no children everyone will try to dip their hand in the till. So please draw up a will. You can have it all given to charity if you wish---just don’[t let any of it get into the hands of those conniving no good relatives of ours who’ve always been trying to mooch off of us.” But after his death she had no will drawn up. Years later at the age of 81 Mrs. Henrietta Garrett died in her Philadelphia home on the night of November 16, 1930. She left behind a $17 million dollar estate and no will. She had at the time of her death only one known relative a second cousin---and she had less than a dozen friends still living. But at the news of her death, the vultures descended. It wasn’t dozens or even hundreds of people who claimed they were entitled to some of the estate---it was thousands---in fact to date more than 26,000 people from 47 of the United States and from 29 foreign countries have staked their claims. Over the course of time more than 3000 lawyers have been employed on the case.
In their efforts to get some of this money---alleged relatives and friends have committed perjury, forged family records, altered church records, changed their names and concocted all kinds of stories of illegitimacy. Twelve have been fined, ten sent to jail, two have committed suicide, three have been murdered. In the meantime the estate’s grown to over $30 million.
Before God ever created the first man and woman, He knew that humans would crave and run after things that were not rightfully theirs. Before God breathed that first breath of life into Adam, He knew that the people He was making would desire forbidden fruit and off limits relationships. That’s why He gave us this tenth commandment.
I’d like for us to read it together…. [SCRIPTURE SLIDE]
Exodus 20:17 "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."
George Barna is famous for the church related surveys and polls he conducts. He took one on the Ten Commandments and according to his survey 53% of the Christians that responded claimed they weren’t guilty of coveting. When I first read that one side of thought –hey that’s pretty cool---over half of the Christian population has a handle on this one. Almost immediately though---I started feeling kinda bad because I know that I’d have to put myself in 47% that doesn’t have a handle on it. But before this whole thing became a real downer for me---I remembered that in that same poll 91% of the Christians who took the poll said that they lie regularly.
Do Christians covet? We sure do. But let me let you in on a not so well known truth. All coveting is not evil. The literal meaning of the word “coveting” is “to pant after.”
The fact of the matter is the word covet is as morally neutral as the word money. Money itself is not evil. Money can be used to bring about good or evil. For example---our money can be used to feed the hungry, provide housing for our family and support the church’s work. Or our money can be used for things like buying illegal drugs, renting pornographic movies and paying for spray paint that’s used to graffiti a wall in a public place. Like our money, our coveting can bring about good or it can bring about evil. For you see---the primary meaning of the word covet is desire. When we covet something—we desire it. We want it. Sometimes we want it so bad we can’t get it out of our mind and it preoccupies all of our thoughts. When we covet something, we feel as if we need it, possibly even feel as if we can’t live without it.