Thou Shalt Not Covet

Title: Thou Shalt Not Covet

Bible Book: Exodus 20 : 17

Author: Kenneth Hendricks

Subject: Coveting; Ten Commandments



Is it bad to want something you can’t have or is it wrong to want something that someone else has? I think we’ve all seen things that belong to someone else that we’d like to have. So what makes it wrong? Or better still, when does it become wrong? I believe the word of God sums it all up in the 10th commandment. Let’s look at it together:

I. The attitude of our hearts, vs. 17.

A. The motive in our heart, vs. 17.

Thou shalt not covet…

The Hebrew word used here is the word 'chamad' which means 'to set your desire upon.' Clearly, this is talking about wanting something that already belongs to someone else. It differs from stealing because it can involve a legitimate acquisition of someone's goods. What makes it wrong is the motive in the heart. It’s very important how you think about getting what you get!

Notice not only the motive in our heart but also:

B. The method in our hand, vs. 17.

…thy neighbour’s… vs. 17

How are you going to get that thing you desire? From time to time we all see something we want, then we think about how we’re going to get it. Listen! Honest hands should be the only method for getting things. When our motive is to get something at any cost, no matter how much pain or suffering we cause others, that’s covetousness! It’s not simply having something someone else has or wanting what others have; it involves our motive and our method of acquisition. These two play equally important roles. Your method can be honest, but your motive wrong. You want it so someone else won’t have it or you want it because you think you deserve it rather more the person who has it.

Not only do we see the attitude of our heart but also:

II. The attitude of our head, vs. 17.

A. It speaks of our beloved, vs. 17.

…Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife… vs. 17

This is probably the most abused of all the commandments. We think it’s nobody’s business who we fantasize about. Well, God sees it differently! It always takes two people to get into a situation that is morally inappropriate sexually, but notice this command is obviously pointed at men. Let me put it in today’s English version, "Men, keep you hands and your mind off you neighbor’s wife!" I’m going to tell you straight forward, you men, let the women work out their own problems! There are counselors and professionals to take care of them; they don’t have to cry on your shoulder or come to you for comfort! If you find yourself with someone else constantly on your mind, it won’t be long until you find them in your arms, or at the least, attempting to make it happen. Look at Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Not only does it speak of our beloved but also:

B. It speaks of our belongings, vs. 17.

…nor anything that is thy neighbour’s., vs. 17

Now listen to this! To covet your neighbor’s good is to attempt tokeep up with the Jones'. You just have to do it; you’ll not be outdone. Its mother is pride! When we become covetous of our neighbors goods, we soon find ourselves willing to go to any extent to get them and keep them. Our goal is not necessarily to get the one he has but rather one like it or one better. It can grow to the point of wishing harm to someone you can’t keep up with.

Thank God for what you have and learn to be content with it! I so often think of the picture of the old man and woman praying over a bowl of broth and a piece of bread. Don’t be destroyed by covetousness! Live a beautiful life and let Christ be your focus!

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