The Ten: Don’t Crave Your Neighbor’s Stuff

“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 else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

The final commandment in The Ten is this: Don’t covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. The dictionary tells me that covet means to “wish, long, or crave” for something that belongs to someone else – in an envying or jealous way.

theten_350I wonder if this is the hardest command of them all. Watch some pre-schoolers playing, and you’ll see coveting in action almost immediately. It doesn’t matter how cool the toy I have is – it’s that you have something I don’t and you seem to be enjoying it. And even if I get it away from you, I’ll be happy only until you pick up something else and make it look fun.

God hates our coveting, though, because we are essentially saying this when we covet what someone else has: “God, the good gifts you have given to me are lame! You have not provided for me adequately. I refuse to be content until I have the same thing, relationship, car, parents, or iPhone that she has.”

Here’s the best advice I’ve heard about coveting: Use gratitude to train yourself to like what you have, and use love to train yourself to be happy for what other’s have.

Think: Are you most likely to covet the things of people you like or people you don’t? Why? In your own words, how is indulging our tendency to covet insulting to the God who provides for us?

Pray: Ask God to help you to like – and to say thanks for – what you have. Ask him to help you to be truly happy for people who have good things that you don’t.

Do: Without looking at anything, try to list all ten commandments in order. Peek once to refresh your memory, then try again (if needed).