“You must not covet your neighbor’s wife. You must not covet your neighbor’s house or land, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. (NLT)
Not many of us have coveted the ox or the donkey of his or her neighbour. But this last of the Ten Commandments still packs a punch. We might define covetousness as desiring any particular thing for the wrong reason or the wrong time. That which we covet might not be bad in itself. A job promotion, a new house, a better academic mark.
But when we become fixated on such things it is a problem. When we covet, we lose a sense of gratitude for what we have because we are preoccupied with what we don’t yet have. Coveting involves impatience and discontent and ingratitude. And it stains our relationships with others. We see them as possessing what we want and so we cease to see them as persons in relationship with us.
Oddly enough, the antidote to covetousness is to do more coveting! Eagerly desiring what is good, what is from God. Such a passionate desire for godly things goes hand in hand with gratitude for what we already have and contentment with what God has provided.
When we covet in the wrong sense, we are really saying God can’t be trusted, that he is insufficient. Ultimately, coveting is a failure to love God and believe that he loves us.
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