- Lesson 11 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:17.
In the 10th commandment, God orders a person not to desire another’s spouse, house or belongings. God is protecting us from a life of frustration, broken relationships and greed. In their place, the Bible teaches that a life of contentment and generosity results in joy, fulfillment and blessing. We must fill our minds with these biblical promises, so that we may drown out society’s siren calls for accumulation.
The commandment against coveting appears to be less crucial than others, a sin of thought instead of action. As the last commandment, it almost seems to be an afterthought. How can coveting compare with having other gods, idolatry, murder or stealing? We are reminded in James 4:2 that the sins of thoughts precede sins of actions, “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder.” First comes the thought, then desire followed by the action.
The standard of living for most Americans is unprecedented in history, especially when compared to the rest of the world. We throw away food, clothes and furniture when much of the world is poor, homeless and hungry. True joy comes through generosity rather than accumulation. Any resource or relationship that a person has is to be used to honor God, but often those people and things are used for self-serving purposes.
In the New Testament Greek, two words are used interchangeably with “covet.” One is the word for “more,” and it conveys the idea that more is never enough. Translation? Greed. It conveys the idea of “receiving from avarice” and calls up a picture of someone trying to fill up a purse that has no bottom in it, or trying to satisfy an unquenchable thirst. The other word translated “covet” means “reaching out for forbidden fruit.”
The message from both these meanings of covet is that human nature, in general, can’t be satisfied. We want more and more and more, but more is never enough. The Scriptures point out again and again that the sin of greed is often the foundation of other sins. The commandment reads, “You shall not covet.” However, we must look beyond the concept of refraining from coveting our neighbor’s belongings. We must go a step farther; we must desire what is good and right. We must learn to be content in whatever our circumstances.
In Colossians 3:2 Paul implored the church to set their minds on the things that are above and not on the things of earth. People today spend large amounts of time obsessing over getting the next new gadget or upgrading to a newer car or a nicer house. The culture inundates society with promotions to buy everything under the sun and preys on fears that people will miss out on the great deal of the day. Philippians 4:11-12 reminds us that we are “to be content in whatever circumstances” that we may find ourselves.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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