Summary: The things of this world cannot satisfy. Only the things of God can do so.
Series: Big 10
It was the middle of the night. Keith Richards, guitarist for the Rolling Stones, had a musical riff playing in his head. He woke up, grabbed his guitar and a tape recorder, recorded the tune and then went back to sleep.
Their front man, Mick Jagger, wrote lyrics to go with the tune. Three weeks later, the Stones recorded that song and it became their first number one hit, both in Britain and in the US. It was the launching pad for their fame.
What was the song? (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Jagger said that when he penned the lyrics, it simply expressed his frustration with the consumerism and commercialism they found in the US.
That song was released in 1965. Almost 50 years later, nothing has changed. You could almost say that this song the national anthem of our nation.
Why is it that most of us, no matter how much we have can't seem to get no satisfaction? There are people living on Madison Avenue in New York City, who make six figures a year, trying to figure out how they can make us want more and more and more. The problem comes in one word that is seldom used, but much abused and it is the word: covetousness.
Ex. 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The first and tenth commandments are closely related. Rick Atchley says, “While the principle of putting God first supplies the motivation for obeying all the others, the tenth principle supplies the explanation for why we disobey all the others.”
The greatest biblical example of that statement is found in the story about David and Bathsheba. David ignored 7 of God’s 10 rules for living because he violated number 10 in the first place.
When David became involved with Bathsheba, he ignored the 10th commandment when his desire turned to another man’s wife. He ignored the 8th commandment when stole her from her husband. He ignored the 7th commandment when he committed adultery with her. He ignored the 9th when he lied about the affair. He ignored the 6th when he tried to have her husband killed. He ignored the 3rd commandment because God’s man took God’s name in vain by behaving in an inappropriate manner. And he violated the 1st commandment because God didn’t have first place in his life.
Covetousness is one of the most deceptive sins people commit. It’s been called the “stealth sin.” This is a sin that flies under the radar. It doesn't' leave any fingerprints. It doesn't trigger any alarms. It doesn't set off any warnings. It is a sin that can be eating you up and you don't even realize it.
Before we get into the meat of the message, we need to deal with two questions. The first question is: What does it mean to covet? The Hebrew word for covet means “to have a deep desire for” or “to pant after.” Covet means that you want something in an unhealthy way that you don’t already have.
Coveting is not ambition. God is not prohibiting us from wanting to possess things and have success. He is not forbidding hard work and the desire to achieve and obtain things. In Rom. 7:8 the apostle Paul stated, “It is my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known.” A healthy ambition is praiseworthy.
In fact in Matthew 25, Jesus commended a man with ambition when he invested an amount of money and it produced a yield. Ambition was a positive quality in Jesus’ eyes. But in that same passage Jesus condemned a man who did nothing with the money he had been given. Jesus called the man who lacked ambition, “wicked and lazy.” Coveting is really ambition out of control.
The second question is: Who is my neighbor? Out of 157 times the term “neighbor” appears in scripture, only five times does it describe someone who is close by. The other 152 times its used to describe someone who is a fellow countryman or anyone who is in need of something from us
The better question: who isn’t my neighbor? It’s an all-inclusive term. Everyone one of us is in need to something.
Why is God so concerned with covetousness? Covetousness brings a world of hurt. #1, it hurts God. We’re not supposed to put anything or anyone in front of him. We’re told in Prov. 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
#2, it hurts others. James 4:1-3 – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.