Exodus 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
Recently, a very kind man gave me the funds for an iPad. I was personally content with what I had in a personal pc, though I had seen the original iPad. However, I was eager to fulfill the wishes of this very kind man! I asked some of our fellow staff members, whom we affectionately call the “nerd herd,” where I should purchase this device? Wouldn’t you know it landed me in the line at Best Buy for 45 minutes, and even then I was not sure I was close enough to be one of the fortunate ones to get the early release! My meditations quickly became consumed with covetousness as I looked inward and heard conversations of others outwardly as I stood in line. “What if I didn’t get one today?” I was amazed at some who purchased the first iPad only a few weeks ago standing in line for the new one. Do you think it is by chance that companies spend lots of money determining how to release the next new phone or the next new device? No! They knew how to market an item based on the wants of the consumer. I realized how quickly one could go from contentment to covetousness!
Here are some basic thoughts to help us conclude if something received was coveted or gifted from the Father:
The word covet in English means, to desire earnestly, to desire with greediness, eager to obtain something, craving for something.
The Greek goes beyond the English word as it can be broken into two:
Plenonexia – to desire more than enough.
Proverbs 30:15, “The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, it is enough.”
Philarguria – excessive love for the world.
1John 2:15, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Covetousness has a progression that is a never ending cycle:
• To be eager to have more (the basic idea).
• To be greedy for gain (a bit more intense).
• To be willing to obtain more by using sinful means, such as taking from others through theft, fraud, extortion,fornication, etc., (the sin at its maximum).
Covetousness is the root of all sins.
Covetousness is a strong desire to obtain, what I want to have, be, or do. This is found in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The Tenth Commandment teaches us how the other commandments are meant to be interpreted, not only dealing with externals, but also dealing with thoughts and motivations. It has convicting power. Romans 7:7-8, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.”
When you think about the other nine commandments, you will soon discover a root of covetousness in each of them.
Commandment I – No other God’s, so if I have more than one I must covet.
Commandment II – No graven images – to bow down to images and icons, one must covet.
Commandment III – To take the Lord’s name in vain, one uses God to fulfill his own desires of covetousness.
Commandment IV – Keep the Sabbath was a focus on a day set a part for the Lord, but when that day is filled with my priorities, I covet.
Commandment V – Honor father and mother – when one disrespects authority, they covet.
Commandment VI – Thou shalt not kill – to take another’s time by force, is to steal life, that man covets.
Commandment VII – Thou shalt not commit adultery – for a man who is married to desire another either on paper, screen, or reality that man covets.
Commandment VIII – Thou shalt not steal – to steal from another man his goods, is for that man to covet.
Commandment IX – Thou shalt not bear false witness – for a person to be deceitful with words is to twist for one’s benefit, that man is covetous.
Covetousness or contentment – that’s the question:A quick way to determine the areas where we covet is to ask ourselves; what things am I not content with? One huge trigger that most Christian fail to consider is the trigger of covetousness. A close look at covetousness will reveal a lack of contentment in our life. God is not primarily trying to give us what we want and satisfy us. He is more concerned about teaching us godliness with contentment, this combination brings great gain. Christians must find their fulfillment in God. Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Christ is all we need. The old song seems so appropriate for this study, break down every idol cast out every foe, Lord wash me and I shall be whiter than snow”. Someone recently ask me how they can know if something or someone has become an idol in their life. My answer – “Let me take it from you and see how you respond. This will reveal who really has our heart.” A person’s life is either built on covetousness, which is filled with doubt and questions, because man is so insufficient; or it is build on contentment in Christ, which is a life built on faith in the sufficiency of Christ. Christ really is all we need. Our daily questions, actions, and reactions are all defined by the foundation upon which our life is build.
We need and desire many things in this world: adequate food, shelter and clothing, work, education, transportation, leisure; but because of chance, heredity, or merit, we find that some people have more desirable things than we do. How does this affect us? Does it make us sad? Can we keep a perspective regarding our wants versus our needs? Covetousness is divisive; it is the enemy of charity and it leads to destruction. 1Timothy 6:9, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Overcoming a stubborn habit entails looking closely at this sin and determining its hold in your life or mine. Ask the Spirit of God living in you where your stronghold of covetousness has a hold on you today.