Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Why is covetousness so wrong? It’s not just about wanting more. It’s not just a greedy, selfish desire to have something. It is more about wanting something we are not allowed to have or not supposed to have. God has given to us our portion. He blesses us uniquely. He gives to us what He deems is good and necessary for us to have in our lives. So it is more about being willing to submit to God and not reach for something that He does not intend for us to have. Doing so hurts our neighbor, but much more, we also go against God when we harbor these kinds of attitudes.
And it’s not only a problem when we actually take action and try to take something that doesn’t belong to us, but it is a wrong desire in our hearts, a thought in our minds, an intention to seek to have something we shouldn’t. And when that seed is planted somewhere deep inside us, it can grow to a point where we become fixated on something that is outside the boundaries of what God intends for us. And when that happens, it can spill over to the point where we actually take action on that desire and sin against someone else and against God.
This commandment harkens back to the very first one about having no other gods. There are many things that can become gods in our lives, not just golden idols. There are desires that can supersede our desire for God. There are things we can pursue with the same attention and energy with which we should be pursuing God. There are things that capture our hearts and minds and fill in the places that should be reserved for Him alone.
Truly, what we are supposed to desire most in life is God Himself. But sometimes we can get distracted by things we see all around us, maybe even things others have that we want for ourselves. So may we examine our hearts and prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal any areas of covetousness in our lives. May we honestly deal with those attitudes we find, surrendering them to God. And may we strive to keep our focus in the right place, seeking God above everything else.