“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” – Exodus 20:17
‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’ – Deuteronomy 5:21
Lately, I have spent more and more time meditating on why “coveting” is so bad in the eyes of YHWH. One of the ten commandments is you shall not covet. Seemingly this idea of coveting is much lesser than some of the other commandments, such as murdering someone. So what does “covet” actually mean?
covet – to want (something that you do not have) very much
to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably
Notice how Scripture defines what not to do regarding the idea of coveting. Do not desire anything that is essentially, not ours. This is a major problem in society today. Essentially our entire culture is constructed upon the idea “getting that next conquest” whatever that might be. Marketing continually bombards our lives and minds with the message, “Your life is incomplete without this possession, skill, talent, gift, relationship, status, idea, etc.”
Coveting in a very real sense is the first sin. Eve and then Adam desired that which was not meant for them. Take a look at Genesis 3.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
Through out the beginning of Genesis 3 we see satan at work “marketing” the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Focusing on deceiving Eve, he then gets Adam. Eve was deceived, she ate of the fruit because it was desirable to her. Adam then ate the fruit not because he was deceived, but because he knew without eating of the fruit, separation would ever be between Eve and himself. Adam desired Eve – coveting her over YHWH and His Word. Satan twists and lies about the reality of the Tree, specifically the ramifications of what will happen once they part-take.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 NKJV
What was their response to this new fallen state? Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Creator of heaven and earth. This is the problem of humanity. We all hide ourselves from God because of our sin. Yet, the presence of the LORD is what brings victory over satan, sin and darkness.
Looking at Exodus we see how the one thing Moses desired from YHWH was, His Presence.
And He said, “My Presence will go [with you], and I will give you rest.” 15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go [with us], do not bring us up from here. Exodus 33:14-15 NKJV
God’s presence slays giants. God’s presence takes out every work of the evil one. His presence is the answer to our lives and victory in the earth. Joshua and the Israelite’s crushed all the giants because the presence of the LORD went before them. Whatever is going on in our lives at any given moment, inviting God into that situation will completely disarm any work of darkness.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” – John 3:19-21 NKJV
There are several reasons why we do not want an ounce of coveting in our lives, here are just a few.
- Coveting leads to bigger levels of sin. When we act upon wrong desire the door for increased pain and suffering opens wider and wider. War, stealing, murder, adultery and divorce spawn from the sin of covetousness.
James chapter 4 communicates this reality perfectly, take a look.
Where do wars and fights [come] from among you? Do [they] not [come] from your [desires for] pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend [it] on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?[James 4:1-5 NKJV]
- Coveting reveals an ungrateful, unthankful and unappreciative heart. Rather than focusing on all the blessings YHWH has provided to us, we focus on our lack. We focus on what we do not have.
Adam and Eve had everything they could ever need or want. They had all the power in the Garden, they were in charge. They had the best status – dominion and stewardship over the earth. This couple possessed everything. Adam and Eve had all the wealth they could possibly desire. Their work did not even make them break a sweat, it was easy. On top of position and possession, they had the presence of the Most High. Satan turned their attention from what they had, to what they did not. Some how they bought into the lie that what they had was not good and God was some how holding out on them. They became unappreciative and discontent.
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. – Luke 6:35 NKJV
Notice how in Luke, unthankfulness is associated with being an evil thing.
We need to be a people of thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation. God is good. He is working so everything that occurs in our lives is working out for our own good.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, [and] bless His name. 5 For the LORD [is] good; His mercy [is] everlasting, And His truth [endures] to all generations. Psalms 100:4-5 NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. – Romans 8:28 NKJV
- Coveting calls YHWH a liar. It says to Him, “God, You’re not trustworthy. I don’t believe what You tell me is true. I don’t believe the things that are currently a part of my life or not a part of my life, are actually for my own good.”
God jealously desires us. Yet we go after the things of the world – position, power, or material possessions. Somehow satan continues to feed us the same lie over and over, generation after generation.
Coveting says, “The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Satan wants us to jump the fence, again and again – in search of the “greenest.” Dis-contentedness and covetousness go hand in hand. If we are discontent we can bet covetousness is taking place. The truth is, the grass is not greener, it is simply a different color. The search is real, but what are we searching for? Are we searching for Jesus or the most money in the bank, the most power on the planet, the most attractive spouse, etc.?
Paul understood this well. He was fully contented in the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. He knew that all of his life was in the hands of the Creator to such a degree he could make this statement:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV
If we trust our current reality – relationships, resources, position to the Most High, there’s no room for sin to expand within our hearts and lives. God is good and is worthy to be trusted with all of life’s details. We can trust Him implicitly. Our responsibility is simple:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 NKJV
His Word promises:
Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. – Psalms 37:4 NKJV
Father in Heaven, You are trustworthy. You are good. Thank You for all that is transpiring in the earth right now over and around my life. Thank You for the relationships in my life. Thank you for the relationships that are not in my life. Thank You for my daily bread. Thank You that everything transpiring in my life is according to Your perfect will. Be magnified today YHWH. Thank You for Your peace, rest and contentment. Most of all thank You for the presence of the Holy Spirit residing within me this day because Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and rose on the 3rd day to save me from death and sin. I also ask that the sin of covetousness be cast down from the hearts of man. I ask that hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving arise in the hearts of man today, more and more and more. Lastly Lord, I do not want anything that is not mine. I only want what You have for me. I gladly receive all that You have for me. I trust You. I repent for any time I have wanted something that is not mine and that you do not have for me. Let everyone be blessed fully with what You have given to them. Thank You for your generosity upon their lives. I celebrate Your goodness upon the people around me. Bless my friends, bless my family, bless my acquaintances, and bless those that say bad things about me. Thank You! In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.