Summary: Covetousness drives a wedge between people and destroys relationships.
The Tenth Commandment
Ex 20:1-17, “Then God instructed the people as follows: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. 3 "Do not worship any other gods besides me. 4 "Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish.
7 "Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. 8 "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 12 "Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God will give you.
13 "Do not murder.
14 "Do not commit adultery.
15 "Do not steal.
16 "Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
We have come to the last of the 10 commandments -17 "Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns."
Eight of the commandments deal with behaviors and actions while only two deal with heart attitudes. “Honor your father and mother” and "do not covet” deal with attitudes of the heart.
We are constantly bombarded with commercials that tell us that our present life is not good enough. In fact, if we would only order this product our lives will change and we’ll live happily ever after. Call now, operators are standing by. And if you call within the next 10 minutes you’ll receive extra stuff, all for the low price of $19.95.
Advertisements influence us very much - we are told that our present life is never good enough. We are told that we cannot be happy unless we have what others are have - something that is newer, bigger, better and shinier than what we may already have.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “covet” as “to want ardently something that another person has; to long for with envy.”
This commandment doesn’t mean that we can’t have desires, ambitions and goals...
The 10th commandment isn’t a prohibition against desiring to have stuff. It’s a prohibition against desiring someone else’s stuff, and allowing stuff to control your life.
When you have an excessive craving for something simply because someone else has it; when you begin to drool over it, then you’ve crossed the line from simple desire to greed and envy.
Covetousness drives a wedge between people and destroys relationships.
I was listening to Dr. Laura this week when a caller asked Dr. Laura for help with her relationship with her sister. They were very close growing up but then after they were married their relationship fell apart. The reason it fell apart was because the caller’s husband became wealthy while the sister’s husband earned only a modest income. Covetousness led to envy which led to the destruction of the relationship.
So how do we combat covetousness?
It helps to remind ourselves that this world is not our home, we’re just passing through.
1 John 2:15-17, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever. NLT”
So, instead of focusing on things WE WANT, focus on the things we’ve sent instead. The things we’ve already sent ahead of us into eternity.
So it helps to ask ourselves - What have I been sending to my eternal home?
Jesus tells us Matt 6:19-21, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” NLT
Jesus says "greed" is something we need to guard against, in Luke 12:15 "Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own." NLT
Jesus goes on to tell the parable of a man who spent all his time and energy storing up his grain and goods. He built bigger and bigger barns, all so that he could retire and truly enjoy life. But before he was able to retire to the good life, God said, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?”