I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
A rollicking Irish folk song goes like this: “The more a man has, the more a man wants. This I don’t think true. I never met a man with one black eye who said he wanted two.”
Joking aside, covetousness is a restless evil that never leaves us content with the blessings God has given us. It is a form of ingratitude. There are few things that destroy peace of mind so much as covetousness.
When we covet, we forget the blessings we have and desire what we don’t have. And if we get what we are coveting, we soon want something else we don’t have. Ovid, an ancient Roman poet, put it this way: “We are ever striving after what is forbidden, and coveting what is denied us.”
The apostle Paul said, in contrast, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
This is possible only if we are “in Christ,” as Paul says—if Christ is dwelling in our hearts through faith (see Ephesians 3:17). We can know the peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), that delivers us from the restless evil of being discontented even with the blessings we have, continually wanting more.
How blind and foolish we are, O God, if we ignore the riches you have given us, and go grubbing in the dirt for something better. Teach us thankfulness in Christ. Amen.
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