"You shall not covet ... anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17
Years ago I received a cartoon after preaching on these words. It shows a man holding two tablets (the commandments) and yelling up at heaven, "But if we can't covet, what will happen to the economy?"
I have come to appreciate the truth and humor of that cartoon. But we miss the impact of the commandment if we think it speaks only to the way our society relates to material things. This commandment gets down to our personal level and addresses our relationships to the people we live and work with.
Coveting first of all fixes our eyes on something that does not belong to us. We may think we have some right to it even though it belongs to someone else. But if, for example, I see my neighbor's new car and I am so bothered by his having it that I begin to wish he would blow the engine or lose it to a car thief, then I am in the territory of coveting. While coveting can eventually lead to other sins, it already disturbs my relationship with my neighbor.
But coveting also does more. It feeds a lack of contentment; it encourages roving, restless eyes; it looks for satisfaction in things I don't have rather than in the things God has given me to enjoy. That leads to dissatisfaction with God and spells trouble. Rereading the words of our verse for today is probably a good idea.
Lord, we can struggle between desires that lead us to work hard and desires that only make us unhappy and restless. Please help me pursue godliness with contentment. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!