“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” 18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.”
One of the mistakes we often make with the 10 commandments is to look at them as just a list. When we do, we see them in a descending scale from greatest to least and so we see the last command, not to covet, as less dangerous or destructive. But the scary truth is that coveting leads to breaking all of God’s commands, how you might ask? Remember last time as we looked at King David and saw the start to his sin by breaking the tenth commandment, coveting his neighbor’s wife. That led to adultery, which broke the seventh commandment. Then in order to steal Bathsheba, breaking the eighth commandment, he committed murder and broke the sixth commandment. He broke the ninth commandment by lying about it, which brought dishonor to his parents, breaking the fifth commandment. He didn’t put God first, breaking the first and second commandments, which dishonored God’s name, breaking the third commandment. Just because coveting is last on the list doesn’t mean its least, it has an effect on all the other commandments. But David is not the only one in danger of sliding down the slippery slope of sin. When it comes to coveting and the commandments we have to ask: Commandment 1, how many of us have put money and possessions ahead of God? Commandment 2, how many have readily bowed at the altars of materialism and greed instead of bowing to God? Commandment 3, how many have blasphemed the name of the Lord in an effort to acquire things? Remember that disregarding God’s Word to obtain what you want in life is blaspheming. Commandment 4, how many have desecrated the Sabbath, refusing to rest because we have made it about money? Commandment 5, how many parents are dismissed, cast aside and dishonored by children too busy chasing careers to care for them? Commandment 6, how many people have been killed because somebody wanted something that belonged to them? Commandment 7, how many marriages have been torn apart because we have become so caught up in earning our salt, that we have neglected our sugar? By the way coveting and lust are in the same family, they are first cousins. Commandment 8, how many have seen their covetous spirit go from attitude to action through stealing? Commandment 9, how many have tried to cover up their covetous spirit by lying, or because they are envious of others have given in to gossip and lie about them? Coveting corrupts us, causing us to rely on self instead of the Savior, instead of turning to God we turn to greed. But coveting doesn’t just corrupt it also causes us to become:
David became so focused on getting that his heart became callous to the things of God. What a contrast between David’s calloused heart and Uriah’s caring heart. Uriah was focused on God and the field of battle, because he had a faithful heart. David was focused on himself and his flesh because he had a fickle heart. Coveting doesn’t just affect us it infects those around us. Coveting doesn’t just corrupt us it brings catastropheon the whole community and even the country. God told David that his choice to covert came with consequences. The firstcost was the life of the baby, but it also brought chaos to his kingdom and the whole country. Coveting cause a fracture in his family that led to his son fighting him for control. But it doesn’t just infect it makes us ineffective.It was coveting that brought catastrophe for both the nation of Israel and Achan when he chose greed over God, Joshua 7:19-21 says: “19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”After the resounding success when the walls of Jericho come crashing down now God’s people are defeated at the small town of Ai because one man chose coveting over God’s commands. Is there any covetousness hiding in your heart? What is it that you long to possess is it priceless and eternal or petty and temporal? How can you know if you have a coveting character, how do we diagnose discontentmentin our lives? Do you ever find yourself saying, or thinking “If only I had…”? Do you do a lot of grumbling and complaining, like the people 1 Corinthians 10:10 speaks about? Do you pout or withdraw when things don’t go your way? Left unchecked coveting can lead to depression as our focus on what we don’t have overshadows what we do. Do you struggle with pessimistic attitude, those who covet tend to be negative about most things, because they are focused on what they don’t have rather than on what they do have. They see the glass as always half empty instead of half full. Are you jealous and envious of what others have like those in 2 Corinthians 12:20 were? Fault finding can be a sign, the need to invent reasons for their lack and others gain in order to placate the emptiness of their own heart and life.Are you preoccupiedwith your possessions, like the rich man in Luke 12:16-21? Do you find yourself filled with anxiety and fear, Philippians 4:6-7? Coveting fills us with worrying about what we don’t have instead of worshipping who we do have. Misery can be a sign, people who will tell you how miserable their lives are tendto be full of coveting. They always want what others seem to have; they look for happiness in getting instead of giving. They think stuff will satisfy but the truth is satisfaction comes through serving not selfishness. Are you stingy with what God has given you, Proverbs 28:22? Does God get your leftovers, Malachi 1:6-14? Do you love things and use people rather than using things and loving people, Romans 13:8-10? Unthankfulness can be a sign. We need to realize that coveting will rob and ruin our relationships, that the conclusion to coveting is always chaos. Coveting causes us to trade peace for problems. So, what about you is there any coveting lurking in your heart?