36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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 (word not allowed), nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
This is the last commandment we have to compare with the verses in Matthew.
We've already established who our neighbors are. You know, I wonder if back in those days when the old testament actually took place, maybe you never say anyone besides people that were considered your neighbors. I mean, there wasn't as much traveling way back then. Regardless of why the word "neighbor" was used, Jesus made it clear that your neighbor is anyone you meet.
I do believe that the definition of neighbor that Jesus gave still applies to this passage. So when it says you should not covet your neighbor's possessions, it means you should not covet anyone's possessions.
With that said... why shouldn't we covet? It's not hurting anyone right?
Well, what does it mean to covet anyway? When you covet something, you're not just simply wishing you had something similar to something that someone else has. For instance, if your friend had a pizza and all of the sudden you really wanted a pizza. It's more of when you see someone with a pizza and you want THAT pizza. The basic problem with that is that you want something that they have and you really don't care if they don't have it. You are putting your own needs and wants ahead of someone else and that very much goes against the commandment Jesus gave in the new testament. If you loved your neighbor as yourself, you would simply be happy for them that they had that pizza.
Coveting and/or envy is a very dangerous thing. Envy is considered one of the 7 deadly sins. Why is something like that considered to be so serious? I believe it is because it can turn into a very consuming, destroying, and controlling force in your life.
When you are coveting something you are not content with what God has given you. In that sense, you're not completely loving God with your whole heart, soul, and mind. You could end up being like a whiny kid who is upset because they're having vegetables for dinner instead of the pizza they want or that someone else has. God wants us to be happy, content, and thankful. When we covet something that someone has we are none of those.
In some ways, coveting can really hurt other people but mostly it usually hurts yourself. It could be as simple as longing for something and just not being happy because you do not have it. Or it could become something more consuming and serious. You might dwell on it and really let it eat you up inside. You might end up doing things to get what you want. You could lie or steal. King David saw a woman that he wanted and he ended up having the woman's husband sent out to the front lines in a battle so that he would be killed. Envy can do that to someone. In today's world it can be pretty serious in other ways. You might see something you want and you might go use your credit card just to have it... You can end up in debt just to have something that likely isn't even a need. All this because of envy. All this because you covet or long for something that isn't yours.
You may remember when it comes to killing and adultery, Jesus told us that if you even think of such things it is just as bad as if you have done them. Wanting something that someone else has can often lead to such thoughts that we are to stay away from.
Coveting is something that is really easy to do, especially in today's society. We are taught by television that we should want what everyone else has. This seems to be today's "american dream" and it saddens me.
The challenge for all of us with this as well as the other commandments is to guard your heart and your thoughts. Your thoughts usually influence your actions so choose healthy thoughts.
I hope my thoughts this week make sense. I encourage you to do your own reading on coveting and envy.
Dear Lord, I thank you for today. I thank you for all the things you have blessed me with. Thank you for always providing. I pray that I will always be content with what I have. Help me to always have a thankful heart.
A new subject or passage each week for all to discuss.
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