The title of this message is the “The Tenth Commandment” Under the theme “One’s life does not consists in the abundance of possession”. Prayer
The tenth commandment is found in the book of Exodus 20:17
17 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.
The tenth commandment is the last commandment written by God in the decalogue. However, that does not make it any less binding than the other nine. James 2: 10-12
Jas 2:10-12 (KJV)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
In other words, all the commandments are equally important, from the first to the last. None is greater than the other. All are equally important.
The emphasis in the ten commandments is on doing. From commandment one to commandment nine. However, the tenth commandment is different, it focuses on the mind, the thinking, the unseeable. That makes it the most advanced commandment of the ten. These people were accustomed to laws based on doing, to have a law based on thinking was beyond their time.
The breaking of it is not easily observed by others therefore it is often ignored by the majority. Yet it is the bedrock upon which many of our other sins are built.
In fact, one writer states:
The tenth commandment strikes at the very root of all sins, prohibiting the selfish desire, from which springs the sinful act. He who in obedience to God's law refrains from indulging even a sinful desire for that which belongs to another, will not be guilty of an act of wrong toward his fellow-creatures.8 Ellen G
This commandment speaks volumes about God and man. Men may judge you on the merits of the other commandments because they can witness them being broken but only God can judge you on this one. This then illustrates that God is able to read our thoughts or otherwise who will judge us.
It also demonstrates that man is not a mere slave to his passions and his natural desires, but he has the ability to control these passions and desires and bring them into subjection.
We are able to mould our feeling and shape our character, it is not left to fate or society to do so. It is God’s desire that we should not be just content with the controlling of our actions and words but that we should focus on the root and control our thoughts.
Paul in his letter to the Philipians the 4chp. And 8 verse makes it clear that our thoughts must be under our control.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
He describes covetousness in his lessons to the Ephesians as one of the worst sins as far as the Jews are concerned. He likened it to idolatry Eph. 5:5
For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (NKJV).
The question that must be asked, is , what does the expression “to covet mean”.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary describes it “ to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another.”
The Cambridge Dictionary states “to want to have something very much, especially something that belongs to someone else:”
The collins Dictionary state “to wish, long, or crave for (something, esp the property of another person).”
I especially like the word to crave. I believe it captures the sentiment of what I am trying to convey. There is a story of a King who coveted a vineyard. Let us turn to this story, it is in 1Kgs. 21:
1(1Kgs 21:1-2 [KJV])
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
The story begins by introducing us to two of the main characters, the king and Naboth. Naboth owes the vineyard. Despite the vast possessions of the king, he looked upon the Naboth vineyard and desired it. He therefore sought to purchase it at a fair price.
Verse 3 states that Naboth refused.
1Kgs 21:3 [KJV])
And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
The refusal of Naboth led the King to become sullen and depressed. This is evidence of the coveteous spirit which possessed King Ahab. He had a whole kingdom before him and abundant wealth, yet discontentment brought to his spirit gloom and sadness.
As we look at Ahab in wonder, we should also look at ourselves. In this day and age so many of us are affected by the things we possess and those which we don’t. We value ourselves by the money we earn, the car we drive and the community we live in. It is not all our fault, because our society promotes such evaluations. Thus, we know to impress we must drive a certain type of car and live in a certain type of neighbourhood. We must have the latest gadgets especially cell phones etc. In our quest to impress we look down on those who do not have and covet the possessions of those who have.
The good news today is that God loves you no matter what you have
He loves you if you are blind
He loves you if you are deaf
Jesus loves you if you are a cripple and begging alms
Jesus loves you if you are leper, afflicted with aids or have contracted covid 19
He loves you because he created you
And he loves you so much that he died to save you.
Have you found a greater love than this?
Too Many are unhappy today, because they choose not to be content with what they have. They look at their neighbour’s and long to obtain what they have – “If only….” They say to themselves. If only. Their lives are bound up with the earthly realm and the eternal is totally ignored.
Jesus’ advise to you is given in Matt. 6:19 -21
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What you value most
What you think about most
What you are most concern about
What you would do anything to attain
That, is where your heart is !!
In this world we witness the employers coveting the salaries of the poor. Paying them next to nothing as they line their pockets and fill their guts with the salaries their owe. Business owners neglect to pay their part of the NIS of their employees while their pay pact is too large to hold in their pocket. This is covetousness.
When we chose to base our happiness on the things we posses we are setting up ourselves for a life of discontent and misery.
In the Gospel of Luke 12: 13 -15 He tells of a young man’s encounter with Jesus after Jesus had just finished speaking about the leaders of the Jewish community:
And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? .15. And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Of all that Jesus had said before, this man could ask no question. He was totally absorbed in the gaining of material possessions that Jesus’ discourse was lost on him. The fact that God loves him so much that he knows the number of hairs on his head was lost on him. The fact that he is of more value than the sparrow and if God takes care of the sparrow, he will also take care of him was lost on him.
All he was concern about is his part of the inheritance and what he could accomplish if he obtains it. How many of us today do not hear the eternal message because we are too wrapped up in earthly issues? How many of us today are not hearing this message because we are too concern with the issues of life?
Jesus says gives another piece of wisdom in Mark 8:35 -37
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
What are you willing to give, my friend, my brother, my sister in exchange for your soul?
Ahab through his wife Jezebel killed Naboth so that he could gain possession of the vineyard. Here covetousness was the seed out of which murder grew. He was willing to go that far to gain earthly possessions. What are we ready to do to gain heavenly ones?
There is another story, of another king And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
....and this is told 2 Sam 11:1-3
David a king with at least eight wives saw the wife of Hittite and coveted that woman. This act of covetousness led to adultery and subsequently murder. Again, we see how covetousness leads us into other sins. The powerful can take what they want with impunity from the likes of man, but God sees all, and it is He who will exact retribution.
We must never allow covetousness to consume us such that it causes us to be labelled as a covetous person. Gill’s exposition on Eph. 5:5 states:
The covetous man may be called an idolater, because the idolater and he worship the same in substance, gold and silver, and brass, or what is made of them; the covetous man admires his gold, lays it up, and will not make use of it, as if it was something sacred; and through his over love to mammon, whom he serves, he neglects the worship of God, and the good of his own soul, and puts his trust and confidence in his riches:
When we become so obsessed with material things we missed the true essence of life, that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
It is Jesus that we find Peace
It is in Jesus that we find Joy
It is in Jesus that we find true happiness
It is in him that we have eternal life.
Don’t find yourself in the same plight as the author of a poem I once read, and it goes like this:
It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.
Try Jesus my friend you will not regret it.