Summary: Coveting is not wrong...provided you covet the right things.
Today, we’re looking at the tenth commandment, Exodus 20:17: "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Johnny was looking through the chain-link fence at the beautiful apple tree next door, and the next-door neighbor came out in the yard and saw this.
He said, "Johnny, are you trying to steal one of my apples?"
Johnny said, "No, sir. I’m trying not to."
In this tenth commandment, do you wonder if the Lord is overstating what He’s already said? Is He stretching this? Is He adding seemingly repetitive words to what He’s already said just to round it out to ten? Wouldn’t "The Nine Commandments" sound just as good?
He’s already said, “You shall not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14).
Why would He say, “...You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife..."?
He’s already said, “You shall not steal" (Ex. 20:15).
Why would He say, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s property"?
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
The fact is it all begins in our heads, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what He’s saying to us, and that’s exactly what Jesus said to us. We sometimes think when we read the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus is saying something new when He said, “You’ve heard it said, ’You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you, ’Do not think adultery.’" He’s not saying anything new. He’s repeating the tenth commandment. The Lord is saying, “Watch what gets into your head. Watch what happens to your heart. It is what is inside that counts."
The reason God loved David so much was David understood it’s not acting religious and doing religious things that God seeks so much as people who love Him with all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God understood what that was going to do as those sins multiplied in their lives, and our Lord put a guard by the tree of life.
He said, "It’s not right. It would be unmerciful for people to live forever as sinners, to live forever in a world where they keep hiding from God when they’ve done wrong, to live forever in a world where brothers kill brothers. It wouldn’t be right for people to live forever in a world like that." So, in His grace, He mercifully kept them away from that source of everlasting and non-ending life.
Our Lord is saying to you and me, “You need to put a guard on the entrances to your mind. Post a sentry, some heavenly, angelic guard to watch what gets into your ears, your mind, and your eyes because it all begins in your head." Success or failure depends upon what you let get into your head. Character or lack of character depends upon what you let get into your head. Doing well or doing bad always begins with a thought. So the Lord is saying, “Watch what gets into your head."
He was a wonderful young man who came from a very modest family, but he had something that set him apart from all others. He had a deep love for God, and this made him one of the most respected and powerful people in the land.