We end our journey through the Ten Commandments this week with a look at the last of these commands which forbids coveting. We might be tempted to dismiss coveting as a mild offense in light of the other commands which forbid murder, adultery, or stealing. However, the tenth commandment addresses the desires of the heart as an important indicator of the direction of one’s life.
Interestingly, the Apostle Paul refers to this tenth commandment in his personal reference of how he came to understand the sinful dictates of his own heart. Paul writes in Romans 7:7, “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” He could have referenced any of Ten Commandments to describe his discovery of his sin nature, but he mentioned covetousness because it brought him to the wayward desires of his heart.
The tenth commandment forbids the coveting of your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17) I believe God gave this word to keep us from many sorrows and to call us to find the satisfaction of our life in a personal relationship with Him.
Rodney Clapp some years ago wrote an essay published in Christianity Today entitled, “Why the Devil takes Visa.” In the article Clapp addressed the universal battle with covetousness:
The consumer is schooled in insatiability. He or she is never to be satisfied—-at least not for long. The consumer is tutored that people basically consist of unmet needs…..Accordingly, the consumer should think first and foremost of himself or herself and meeting his or her felt needs. The consumer is taught to value above all else freedom, freedom defined as a vast array of choices.
These “vast array of choices” seem to describe what fuels a frenzy of consumption. In this world’s philosophy, such a passion for things is linked to one’s happiness. However, this is a dangerous way to think and to live. This vicious cycle helps us understand why God lovingly goes on record by forbidding covetousness. (more…)