Summary: Examines the difference between a coveting heart and a contented heart.
I like cartoons. Dennis the Menace has been a favorite for a long time. One comic strip has a picture of Dennis looking at a catalog and saying, “This catalog’s got a lot of toys I didn’t even know I wanted.”
The Wizard of Id has a comic strip where one monk is putting up a sign on the bulletin board in front of his church while a visiting monk watches. The sign read, “Thou shalt not covet.” The visiting monk said, “Boy, I wish we had a signboard like that at our church.”
We come to an end of our study of the 10 commandments. I hope it has been interesting and informative for you. It has for me. The last of the 10 would seem to be the least threatening, the less dangerous or destructive. Simply stated it says, “You shall not covet.” Many of you may think, “That one doesn’t bother me.” Or, “Even if I covet what’s the big deal? Who’s hurt by it?”
Well, the Bible clearly says it is wrong to covet. One good definition that I heard for coveting is: “The uncontrolled desire to acquire.” We’re not talking about an ordinary desire to have things. Material possessions by themselves are neutral. The bigger issue today is how we can be content without desiring things uncontrollably.
Let’s read the verse. God gives us three categories here. It is wrong to desire: (1) Your neighbor’s property (house), Ahab took Nabob’s vineyard (2) Your neighbor’s people (wife, male or female servant), King David (3) Your neighbor’s possessions (ox, donkey, nor anything). Somebody desired my chain saw so they took it from my garage.
We will look at two kinds of hearts today. The Coveting heart and the Contented heart.
I. THE COVETING HEART
The coveting heart is not innocent. In God’s eyes, it is corrupt and it is corrosive.
1. It Disregards the Laws of God
That it is corrupt is obvious because God would not have included it in the list of The Ten Big Ones. Just because it is last doesn’t mean it is least. I think it has an effect on all the other ten. For instance:
(1) How many of you have put money and possessions ahead of God? – V.3
(2) How many have bowed at the altars of materialism and greed while refusing to bow at the altar of the Lord? – Vs. 4-6
(3) Many have blasphemed the name of the Lord in efforts to acquire things. Disregarding God’s Word to obtain what you want in life is blaspheming. – V. 7
(4) Have you ever desecrated the Lord’s day to make money? – Vs.9-11
(5) Many parents are treated poorly and cast aside by children too busy making money to be bothered with them. – V.12
(6) Many people are dead today because somebody wanted something that belonged to them. – V.13
(7) Lot’s of marriages are torn apart because of as one preacher said, “He was so caught up in earning his salt, he neglected his sugar!” A coveting heart is behind adultery. Coveting and lust are first cousins. – V.14
(8) It goes without saying that stealing is the end result of a covetous spirit that has gone too far. – V.15
(9) Often, people will lie about another person, gossip about them because they are envious and covetous of that person’s life. – V.16
Listen to Paul:
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. NKJV
2. It Denies the Lordship of Christ
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. NKJV
B. It is Corrosive
1. It becomes Excessive (and destructive)
15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ’What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ’I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ’ 20 But God said to him, ’Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."