The 10th Commandment
Whatever spin one tries to put on it, coveting is wanting something that does not belong to us. It is, simply put, nothing less than consumptive greed, and is centered in self-indulgence and it is always destructive. Although this is the last of the Ten Commandments, it is the source of many other sins the commandments address. Coveting lies behind idolatry, stealing, lying, adultery, and in its worst case scenario, murder, as the story of Bathsheba and David illustrate.
The earlier commandments are about external acts, whereas coveting is about the internal cause of those acts, the prior stimulus so to speak, which are the attitudes from which they derive. Murder, adultery, lying and stealing are all external acts, but covetousness is hidden internally. That is why it is so dangerous a friend to cultivate. It works underground and we deceive ourselves as to its existence. In Luke 12:16, Jesus said, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”
A huge myth in society today is that a person’s significance consists in the abundance of things they possess. It is keeping up with the Jones, at all cost; which amounts to spending money we do not have, to buy things we do not want, to impress people we hardly know. We live in a culture that encourages the idea of ‘the more we have, the better off we’ll be’, but Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
In light of this, is it legitimate to be ambitious in business? Are we wrong in wanting to earn more money? The answer is ‘no’. None of this is wrong, but the deeper issue is why do we want these things? Are they related to the agenda of God or strictly to our own desires? Too, are we willing to use the abundance past our own needs to help meet the needs of others? The Scriptures teach us that what we have is on trust from God, and His concern is that we become good stewards of what we have. Hoarding as much as we can for personal gain is sin. Material goods are ours to enjoy, but they are not what brings deep satisfaction in life. Our Lord has revealed that what ultimately brings the deepest satisfaction in life is found in the character of relationships we develop, the first and foremost being the relationship we have with God.
Continually wanting more and striving to get it will eventually lead to bankruptcy of both soul and spirit. When we are in an open, honest relationship of love and dependency upon God, we find ourselves richly provided for, where our daily needs are not only met, but exceedingly met. As we share on earth what God gives us from heaven, we will discover God’s blessings in abundance. Living in His abundance stifles our tendency to covet because all that we have is all that we want. Out of His abundance we give to others so that they become the receivers of His blessings as well.