I had no idea that there were so many ways to break the tenth commandment.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
But after observing the words and behaviors of a certain child who ardently desires to be considered a teenager, I got to thinking how that could look to various sections of the population. After all, it says, “nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
So, for the child it might read, (and I am very loosely paraphrasing on all of the following):
You shall not covet your neighbor’s toys, nor your neighbor’s bedtime, nor his rights to watch certain movies, nor his being allowed to do what he wants when he wants, nor his fun activities that he gets to do and you don’t.
For the student it might read:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s grades, nor his intelligence, nor his teacher, nor his schedule, nor his girlfriend, nor any other of the abilities or privileges of your neighbor.
For a person in the workforce it might read:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s job, nor his position, nor his paycheck, nor the things that he is able to purchase, nor the activities that he is able to do that you cannot afford.
For a musician or sports player it might read:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s talents, nor his equipment, nor his abilities, nor his successes in competitions, nor the applause that your neighbor receives after a performance or a victory.
And the list could go on and on.
I’ve known a few people who have an intense problem with obeying this commandment.
These are people lacking one ingredient in their hearts:
This lack of contentment leads them to jealousy, angry outbursts, hatred, instability, abusive speech, and more.
They are very unhappy people, and while they may not steal things, they do steal the joy of those who live around them with their constant complaining.
They feel that somehow they are entitled to more,
- more possessions,
- more privileges,
- more power,
- more praise,
- more progress,
- higher position,
- more respect,
- more talent,
- more happiness,
- more blessings than what God has chosen to give them.
Maybe you aren’t a full-fledged discontented person, but maybe you, like me, see yourself in one or two of the above (or some other related) scenarios.
So, how can a person overcome this discontent? God says:
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Heb. 13:5 NKJV
And the Amplified Classic Edition expounds on this further:
“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]”
So basically, keep reminding yourself that God is enough!
You don’t need any more than Him and what He desires to give you. Desiring more than that is to argue with the Sovereign God of the universe who loves you dearly and wants what is best for you.
If you or a loved one are in the trap of coveting more and of not being content with what God has given you, the following steps should be helpful if you consider them and do them prayerfully, asking for God’s help:
- Daily remember that God is Sovereign. He is Lord and King, and He is your Creator.
- Daily remember that God loves you. He is Loving and Kind, and He is always with you.
- Confess your frustration and feelings and desires to God. Maybe you have been thinking that He won’t know if you don’t tell Him, but surprise! 🙂 He knows already, and He won’t be shocked when you talk about it with Him.
- When you are listening to God’s Word being preached or when reading it for yourself, Pay Close Attention to what God is like, and talk to Him about your reactions to what you learn.
- Thank God, every time you find yourself wanting more, for all He is and all He has already given you .
- Praise Him! Tell Him how wonderful He is! He doesn’t need to hear it from you, but YOU need to hear it from you. (We are such forgetful creatures of that which is good.)
- Be patient. Some of your desires may not be bad in and of themselves, but you need to wait on God’s perfect timing for those things to come to pass.
God created us for His good pleasure. He created us with a desire for joy that can be found only in Him. Trying to fill ourselves with all this other stuff is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
I’ll leave you with two more Scriptures:
“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NASB
“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Matt. 6:33 AMP
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