What is this Covet Thing?
by Pastor Bill Pevlor
gave Moses the Ten Commandments about thirty-five hundred years ago and we’ve
had a difficult time keeping them ever since. There is an in-born inclination
within us to rebel (sin) against any and all restrictions placed on our lives;
even when we know it is intended for our own good.
The Ten Commandments are given in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The
last of the ten is “Thou shalt not covet.” The commandments that deal
with adultery, murder, lying and stealing seem to get a lot of attention, but
seldom do we hear much about coveting. Many people, I’m sure, don’t even
know what “covet” means.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word covet as “to want
ardently; long for with envy.” Coveting is an excessive desire to have
something that someone else has. Coveting is a problem, because though it begins
as an inner conflict it will eventually result in an outward action. Coveting
can be hidden from those around you because it is a condition of the heart. Left
unchecked, it can lead to lying, stealing, and even murder.
When the commandment was given in Exodus 20:17 it stated “You shall
not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbors wife, or
his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to
your neighbor.” Today our neighbor has many more enticing possessions than
a healthy ox or donkey.
In our society of instant gratification coveting is rampant. Look
at its effect on the lives of the people around you. Why are so many people up
to their eyeballs in debt? They saw a new car, clothes, house, boat, camcorder,
etc., etc. they just had to have. Modern day media continually fan the flames of
covetous desire by parading scores of alluring new products past our eyes
several times an hour. Covetousness is the motivation behind the never-ending
struggle to keep up with the Joneses. In our affluent society most people can
afford practically anything, they just can’t afford everything…but they keep
Aside from material possessions most everyone knows of a family that was
destroyed because someone coveted another other than their spouse; or worse,
someone else’s spouse. As is the case in all coveting, any action taken to
gain possession wasn’t immediate. Over the course of time, as a person
continues to covet, turning their thoughts to envy and lust, the inner condition
of the heart will ultimately lead to an outward action.
The number of cars, houses, boats, camcorders, husbands and wives in the
world are limited. We can’t have everything. Even if we could, it wouldn’t
be best for us. There is only one thing we are permitted to covet; God Himself.
The good news from God’s Word is that God is not limited. There is an
infinite supply of God to go around. You can “take” all of God you want and
there will still be enough for everyone else to take all of Him they want. The
most precious commodity in the world (a close, fulfilling, relationship with
God) is also the most bountiful. Go ahead; test me on this one. Endeavor to
exhaust the supply of God. Give it your best shot. I promise, you’ll have the
most incredible, glorious time trying!
When you redirect your covetous desires for earthly possessions to a
desire for a deeper relationship with God you will find your other desires will
be met too. In the book of Matthew 6:33 Jesus said “Seek first His (God’s)
Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as
Actually, when you seek after God first, your desires will begin to
change. You will no longer desire someone else’s possessions; you will desire
the things that God desires for your life.
Philippians 4:19 says “And my God will meet all your needs
according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” The opening line of the
memorable twenty-third Psalm reminds us that “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall
not want.” It is impossible to satisfy all your desires apart from a close
relationship with the Shepherd; the Lord Jesus Christ. Covet that relationship.
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