“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)
There is a good sort of coveting and a bad sort of coveting. The bad sort, spoken against here in the last of the Ten Commandments, is to desire the wrong thing. And more than that, it can involve desiring what might be in itself a good thing but for the wrong reason and at the wrong time.
I can covet a church leadership position but my motivation may be simply one of accumulating power. I can covet a new car which might be a legitimate desire but it may not be the right time to get one. Coveting essentially good or neutral things can lead to discontent with what we have.
And of course we can covet things that are simply not ours to have. This is greed. This is egotistic ambition that insists we must have what we want now, no matter who gets hurt along the way. Whatever we covet comes to preoccupy us. It becomes an all-consuming pursuit that distorts life.
We are certainly free to have our desires and free to improve our lot in life. But always with a view to what our God is desiring for us. Pray regularly that your desires align with the mind and heart of God. We covet, we strongly desire, to become more like Jesus. That sort of coveting coexists with contentment. The remedy for bad coveting is good coveting.