If you take obedience to God’s word seriously, it should be a given that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of your life. Many Christians can’t even name all ten offhand, but most believe that their lives are safely in line with those basic principles. Only blatantly rebellious Christians will involve themselves in adultery, murder, theft and lying – at least the obvious acts that we associate with those sins.
We often forget Jesus’ words that if we even just think lustful thoughts about someone, we have committed the sin of adultery. Even if we lash out in anger or entertain hateful feelings towards someone, we have committed murder. Who among us has never, even for a moment, fallen into entertaining such hidden sins? Not even the holiest of the holy in our church community is innocent of breaking God’s commands, because all of us have sinful natures and need God’s mercy and forgiveness – even after being saved. The more we love God, the more we will run from sin, and not only outward sins, but the sins of our hearts. It’s a daily battle. As vigilant as we may be, the human ego is so easy for the devil to manipulate.
Which brings me to the one rarely thought of command. Thou shalt not covet. The full verse in Exodus 20:17, talks about not coveting your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female servant, oxen, donkey or anything else. The word covet is so rarely used these days, it’s the forgotten command, the one no one seems to care much about. But our world is full to overflowing with coveting, and we don’t even realize how often we embrace that sin.
The power of advertising and marketing is its reliance on humanity’s abundance supply of covetousness. We see a product that we don’t really need, but we want to look like the beautiful happy people in that ad, so we waste our money to buy it anyway. We covet the status that eating in a certain restaurant gives us, or the lifestyle we can pretend we have when we wear those clothes. We’re embarrassed to drive that perfectly functional car with the funny appearance because we covet the cool factor that the pricier version has to offer, and dig ourselves into debt because of it. We’ll buy our children expensive trinkets to satisfy the covetousness they learned from us. Coveting can be done out of jealousy, rivalry and envy, the need to impress, or just out of pure selfishness. But do we realize that coveting is listed right next to adultery, murder and theft? It’s a sin of the heart, where we nurture demonic emotions and destroy our relationship with God. Why are we not fighting against it? Why is this evil so tolerated?
If we hated it as much as murder, we would be alert to its presence and be radical about destroying any traces of it in our hearts. Being grateful every day for the blessings that God has given us is a start. There are many in this world who would be so happy to have the little that you’ve been blessed with, but coveting creates contempt for God’s provision and a greed for more. Make a habit of sincerely praising God for others who receive blessings that you don’t yet have – be truly happy for them to kill any root of bitterness or covetousness in you. All that matters is how you invest in your eternity. Everything will turn to dust and disappear, but in one hundred, two hundred, ten thousand years from now, you will still exist – either with God or without Him, depending on how you invest your life right now. Take your eyes off of temporary treasures and status symbols, even at the risk of looking ridiculous. Hunger and thirst for God’s ways above all. It’s not worth showing contempt for the blessings God so lovingly provides for you and losing your salvation in the end. Love Him in pureness of heart, because in that, there is no room for sin.
You lust and do not have, so you kill. You desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have, because you do not ask. You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your passions. You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:2-4 MEV