The last commandment is Exodus 20:17, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his oxor donkey, or anythingthat belongs to your neighbor.” Have you ever seen an ad and thought, “I wish I had a house, spouse, car, truck, computer, like that?” When does a simple desire become a sinful desire? This commandment teaches the answer.
The Definition of Covetousness
Coveting is “an excessive desire for something you do not have or an envious desire for that which someone else has.” It is not wrong to have desires. We all have God-given desires and God-given dreams. There are healthy, holy desires and unhealthy, unholy desires. There is nothing wrong with desiring a house, spouse, SUV, etc., just not your neighbor’s! We are to love God and love our neighbor. If you love God, you will be content with what He has provided you until He sees fit to provide you a bigger or better one. If you love your neighbor, you will not covet, steal, lie, commit adultery, or kill to get what they have. Covetousness caused Adam and Eve to sin in the first place. They coveted the one fruit, one tree they did not have. The way the Lucifer became the devil was that he wanted to be God. Covetousness is the mother of all sins. Of the commandments, nine are outward/visible, but the tenth is inward/invisible. The government cannot make a law against covetousness. We have to judge ourselves. Jesus said in Mark 7:21, “For from within, out of the heartof men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
The Development of Covetousness
If you watch children playing, a child can have a variety of toys all around them, but they will want the one toy another child has. To be covetous, we have to do absolutely nothing. The seed of sin is already in us. In addition to the fall of Satan and the story of Adam and Eve, there are many other examples in Scripture of covetousness – Achan in Joshua 7, David and Bathsheba, David’s son Amnon lusting after Tamar to the point it made him sick, etc. Have you ever wanted something so badly that you were sick?Coveting will make you sick, cause you to make bad choices and in the end, it will leave you dissatisfied. What you thought you could not do without, live without, will not make you happy. Keeping up with the Joneses will destroy you. Comparison kills contentment. A major cause for unhappiness is covetousness. You want the position, job, title, salary, house, car, mate, family that someone else has.Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” People are more important than possessions. Materialism is not how many cars or houses you have but when the stuff is more important than the spiritual. It’s when your identity is defined by what you have. If you lose your stuff do you lose you?
The Deliverance from Covetousness
The answer to covetousness is contentment. Wealth can buy a bed but not sleep, books but not brains, a house but not a home. 1 Timothy 6:6-7, 10 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, andwe can take nothing out… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The answer to covetousness is also generosity. “Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Being content does not mean you can’t ever have anything. It means you start thanking God for what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. The answer to covetousness is thankfulness and trust. Paul says he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11). When you covet something, you make a god, an idol, out of it (Col. 3:5).
The ten commandments show us the righteous requirements of God. There is no way that we can keep them or meet God’s requirements on our own. That is why Jesus came. He spent 33 years fulfilling the ten commandments. He satisfied the holiness of God. He met the standard. Grace and truth came through Jesus. Grace did for us what the law could not do.