Summary: 5th in a 5 part series applying Biblical answers to family issues. (Using the 10 commandments as a Biblical basis)
THE CONTENTED FAMILY
A Sunday School teacher told her class of 2nd graders the story found in Luke 16 of the Rich man and Lazarus. How that when they were here upon the earth the rich man had everything that money could buy and poor Lazarus had to beg for mere crumbs. But when they died, the rich man due to his selfishness went to a place of horrible torment while Lazarus went to a place of paradise. In conclusion, the teacher asked her students the question: "Now, which man would you rather be, Lazarus or the rich man?" One little boy’s hand shot up immediately and he said, "Well, while I’m alive I want to live like the rich man, but when I die I want to be like Lazarus."
That’s pretty indicative of the sentiment of much of today’s culture. We want it both ways, everything while living here, no sacrifice or lack of luxury, but when we die we want paradise. There is not much doubt, as you look at our society that we are materialistic. Many people truly believe that the more you have the happier you’ll be. But God has a different idea. He insists that having things does not now nor ever will provide contentment. Instead, God would say to us "Please put less emphasis on external possessions and more emphasis on internal and eternal contentment.” This commandment focus’ directly on our attitude, it gets to the source of the problem: the heart. "Do not Covet." Charles L. Allen writes: "It is fitting that this is the last rule because it brings us to the climax of living, which is contentment. Contentment gives peace and joy in our minds and hearts but it only comes from living God’s way." And this 10th commandment is so important for our families. With all the dissatisfaction we see in marriages, with all the financial pressure many of our families are under, we need to look closely at God’s plan and see what provides true fulfillment, what makes a contented family.
I. COVETOUSNESS IS CONSUMING: (The Definition of coveting)
First, what does it mean to covet and why is it wrong? Maybe it would help to start by seeing what it does not mean. God is not telling us that we can’t desire anything. He is not forbidding ambition, He is not prohibiting success. He’s not saying, "Don’t have any desire whatsoever for possessions." The Bible doesn’t promote laziness. Prov.6:6- "Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. The have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting it ready for winter." (GN) The ant accumulates things that it needs. So, God would say, “I’ve created within you a normal desire for things and it is not wrong to see something and want it badly enough to work for it.” In fact, Paul says in 1 Thess. 3:10 that he gave the early churches a rule that if you don’t have enough ambition at least to work than you should not eat.
So when God says do not covet He is not saying "Do not desire anything." But what He is saying is: "Make sure you maintain a proper balance.” Covet = the uncontrollable desire to acquire. It refers to that consuming need for things, an inordinate want. William Barclay defines it as "the desire for something which we have no right to posses. A need that is driven by selfish ambition." To covet is to be willing to put things over people. To covet means to envy other people’s possessions so much that it results in discontentment; to forsake your relationship with God or ruin your family over your desire for having an abundance of things.
When you look at the categories of coveting that God gives here you see that they pretty much cover all the areas of our life. (1) He says, "Don’t covet your neighbors house." This, of course includes the type of lodging you have. What’s your reaction when you go to the home of a peer and it’s nicer than yours? Are you devastated? Bitter? Do you drive home and say to your wife, "Did you see that house? It’s so elaborate! They’re the same age that we are and yet they have twice the house we do. They must of inherited their money, I can’t believe it! Two acres, a 3 car garage, an entire wall of video & stereo equipment, and did you see that furniture? It goes back to Louis XIV, ours goes back to Sears on the 15th, if we don’t pay it." God says, "don’t be envious of your neighbors house. If he has something nicer than you, compliment him, say, "I’m glad for you, that’s great, enjoy it. I’m just glad I don’t have your payments."