Crabtree Acres


“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

This particular commandment seems pretty straightforward and plain, but, as the other commandments have been, this one also has a spiritual counterpart that shows us what is in ourselves as people. I believe that this particular commandment probably reveals more about our hearts than any other. The Bible says that “where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.” When we covet, we are showing that our treasure is somewhere where it doesn’t belong. Our hearts are in the things of this earth that belong to others, and not in the things in heaven that God wants to share with us.

The word “covet” has both a bad side and a good side, depending upon what we are coveting. It means “to wish for excessively, to crave greedily.” Paul says in I Corinthians 12 that we are to covet the best gifts. We are to earnestly desire the best gifts that God gives to His children; there is apparently nothing wrong with this desire. We can actually be greedy for those things. We can righteously covet without sin the things that God wants to give us; we can desire wisdom, virtue, or learning. We can desire service for Him and the ability to do His work. We can desire the fruit of the Spirit. God wants us all to have those things, but coveting becomes sin when we want things that are not in God’s plan for us, but in the plans He has for someone else. God is very specific in this particular command and shows us exactly what we must not desire – those things that God has graciously given to others and not to us.

The opposite of coveting is contentment. I Timothy 6 indicates that we are to be content with our station in life, with our work, with the people God puts in authority over us, with our own family, with the amount of wealth we have. He tells us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love perseverance and gentleness. When we are wanting those traits that belong to Christ in our lives, we don’t have time to waste wanting things that belong to another. What we will desire is for God to bless our neighbors with those things that will help them have a better relationship with Him.

Our entire society breeds discontent in us in our entire environment. All advertising is meant to make us crave things – many time things we don’t need or will not really use very long. Children are greedy for toys that barely make it out of the box before they are cast off. Men (and women) are greedy for new cars when the old one is perfectly sound. Newlyweds are greedy for huge homes that are full of new appliances, new furniture, new everything! We are not content to wait on God for the things He wants to give us; things that will product character in us by learning to wait on God.

One teacher has defined contentment in three ways:

· Learning to enjoy present possessions rather than desiring new ones or additional ones

· Learning to control curiosity (Genesis 3 – Eve’s curiosity about the fruit got her in real trouble)

· Learning to enjoy times of being alone and being quiet

Most people today cannot stand quiet. They must have noise and activity around them in the form of music, television, sports, games, and people. How can we hear the still small voice of God when we have noise all the time? Young people are especially addicted to this. With CD players they can hook into their ears and telephones that go with them everywhere, they are never quiet and barely communicate with those around them. This is a sign of discontent with their surroundings and the people around them.

I Timothy 6 also warns us that falling into the temptation of discontent is a snare and will plunge us into ruin and destruction. Look at our today’s society with the housing bailout. People bought houses that they could not afford and now are being bailed out with government money that has thrown our entire nation into economic chaos. Men are plunged into ruin and destruction. Corporations have done the same thing; churches have done the same thing with big mortgages on their churches that eventually leads to pastors preaching to get money into the church to pay the debt, rather than listening to God and preaching the truth.

Psalm 37:1-4 tells us not to fret over the evildoers and not to be envious toward wrongdoers. When we are envious because evil doers seem to succeed or seem to be happy, we are revealing that in our hearts we are coveting their ability to enjoy sin and that we are not content with God and His ways for us. Do we really want to return to the sin that so easily beset us? When we do this we are being like Lot’s wife, looking back on Sodom, wanting to return to our familiar ways. Lot’s wife became what she was leaving – Sodom became a dead place of a Salt Sea. According to the Bible she became a pillar of salt – dead in her disobedience and sin. This same Scripture tells us to “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land [that God had given them] and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we delight in the Lord and are thankful for what He provides for us, the desires of our heart will change and be Godly, not selfish. We will have the same desires in our heart that God has for us, because the Holy Spirit is in control of our desires.

This is serious business with God and we need to realize that discontent is a slap in God’s face. We must learn to be grateful to Him for everything He provides, big or small. Paul said that he had learned to be content in every situation. The important word here is “learned”. Learning takes time and effort. We seldom learn anything valuable by osmosis. It doesn’t come easily to us. We must want it badly enough to work for it and wait for the end results. For example, learning to read does not come the first day of first grade. It takes time to become a good reader with the ability to understand what we are reading. In the same way, contentment takes effort and time to be built into us. It is not instant in our lives. When we see that gain is worth the effort, we desire it more and more. As we desire contentment more, this becomes more natural to us than the old life of greed.

The old nature in us wants more and wants it now. When we look around and see those who have more, we want that. What we are doing is saying to God, “You are not being fair; You have given your other children more than me.” When I was a girl I can remember my Mother standing and dividing out M&Ms for my three little sisters. She would always put the same amount of the same colors in each cup so that they would not fight over who got more reds, yellows, or greens. God would have us accept without complaining the M & M’s He divides out as He wants to give them to us. If you get more reds than I do, I should be happy for you. If I get more blues than you do, you should be happy for me. The focus is not on me, but on my neighbor and being happy for what God does to bless them. Contentment actually comes from seeing God bless those around us, rather than grasping for blessings for myself. I Timothy 6:6 tells us that godliness with contentment is great gain.

The Bible also tells us in Matthew 5:13 that we are the salt of the earth. Salt makes people thirsty. If we are living as God would have us to, we will make others thirsty for what we have. We will cause them to covet the good things that we are receiving from the Lord – joy, peace, patience, kindness, love, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. To cause others to covet those things is not wrong; God wants to give those qualities to everyone.

If we take anything from this study on the Ten Commandments we must take at least three things:

· God never changes; He still holds the Commandments as a standard for our lives that will make us happy in Him.

· We cannot live the commandments in our own strength and we certainly cannot gain salvation by them; we must have the help of the Holy Spirit to live them the way God wants us to – in our hearts where God is seeing the real us

· In Christ the commandments point us to a way of life that focuses on others, not ourselves. It is not the “Thou shalt nots” that Christ came to fulfill but the “Thou shall”. We must love our neighbor as ourselves and focus on the positive ways to demonstrate the love of Christ to others.