Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

10 – Coveting


Do not covet

This is a series on the “Decalogue” or “Ten Commandments” these are found in the second book of the bible Exodus in chapter 20. Moses receives these words from God on top of the mountain and he receives the commands on two tablets. The first tablet contains the instructions for man’s relationship with God. We pick up the account in the eighth verse of chapter twenty where we see the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

V17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Or to put in plain English, whatever your peer, friend, neighbor or family member has has, don’t want it!

It is easy to covet

Coveting is one of the easiest sins to fall into, especially since the advent of social media where you can see in a snapshot what people have that is new and what vacations they have. It is hard sometimes as it hits you in places where you are vulnerable to attack.

An example of this would be if you haven’t been on a vacation for a few years and you see people away (even just for the weekend) it is hard to be happy for them and something deep within yourself begins to be jealous and then you begin to covet what they have.

Same with if someone works hard to get a new car, you start to look at your life and start to not be content and suddenly your car doesn’t match up and you desire to have what your neighbor has.

Meaning of coveting

These are all every day examples that I am sure you can identify with, the word covet is “chamad” and it means one of three meanings…

1) To desire
2) To be desirable
3) Delight greatly, desire greatly, to pant after.

So it is much more than just a passing “Ah, I wish I had …” It plants a seed and leads to discontent and the covetousness and what you covet becomes like something you have to attain, an itch you have to scratch and you won’t give up until you have it.

A temporary solution

Except that it is a temporary fix, like all sin. It does not satisfy and it does not gratify. There will always be a newer model, always be more gadgets, there will always something that seems better than what you have.

What not to covet

Moses states a whole list of things you were not meant to covet, the list is below…

Your neighbor’s house – This is one area that even today we struggle with, why is it that when we see how someone else has done something to an identical house, suddenly ours is not good enough anymore?

Covetousness deals with the heart and the heart is desperately wicked, it changes on a daily basis and the desires of yesterday will fade like yesterday’s sunshine. The idea of coveting your neighbor’s house is that something there sparked a desire that said you want something of his.

Your neighbor’s wife – This is dangerous ground as this kind of thought process if not dealt with right away biblically, quashed and quelled can lead to further sin. coveting is like a seed that if you nurture and water it will bloom and grow into another sin – Adultery.

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

His male servant, or his female servant – You are not to want his servants or anyone who is in his house, again we are looking at a like for like deal here and although we have no actual servants working for us, I appreciate the principle of wanting something that is owned by someone else.

Ephesians 5:3 (ESV) But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

His ox, or his donkey – Don’t go after his possessions or his mode of transport! Today that would be his tools of the trade or his vehicle. We all have looked upon a car as sighed as we open the door to the vehicle that we own. It is difficult and no one said it was going to be easy.

Anything that is your neighbor’s – And this covers everything else! Anything that you think of that you may desire of someone else’s and that may cause you to stumble into other sins,  would you lie to borrow it and not bring it back, would you steal it, or would you just let it eat away and destroy your happiness?

Jesus gave us a frank lesson on covetousness in Luke

Luke 12:13 (ESV) Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Tonight your soul is required of you

And that is the truth, no-one knows how long we have on this earth and while it is good to make plans, it should not be all about what we do on this earth as greater things have yet to come after we pass from this earth.

The believer has no business in covetousness as his heart should be on heavenly things as opposed to the earthy things that really have very little value and certainly no value once you pass on.

Jesus also advised that on that night his soul was required of him and that is true, they only thing we should covet is our heavenly salvation and securing that first, securing where you will spend eternity is most important.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.

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