February 7 I Monday
“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” —Exodus 20:17
Coveting is wanting something that does not belong to us. It is greed and self-indulgence, and it is 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.
The earlier commandments are about external acts, whereas coveting is about the internal cause of those acts, which are the attitudes from which they derive. In other words, 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 12:15, Jesus said, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
A huge myth in society today is that a person’s significance consists in the abundance of things that they possess. It is “keeping up with the Joneses,” 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 reminds us, “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 dishonour 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 wellbeing? 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. That is found in relationships, the first and foremost being the relationship we have with God. Continually wanting more and striving to get it will eventually lead to our bankruptcy of soul and spirit, but in a relationship of love and dependency upon God, we are richly provided for with our daily needs and more. As we share on earth what God gives us from heaven, we will discover God’s blessings in abundance, and we do not covet because all that we have is all that we need.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You, Lord, for the many blessings You have given me. Help me to be a good steward of what I have and share generously with those in need.