“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey,
or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:17 (NIV)
The First and Tenth Commandments deal with the heart while the other eight focus on outward actions that begin in the heart. Covetous people will break all of God’s commandments to satisfy their desires. To covet is to want what someone else has. Its twin is envy which is resenting that they even have what you don’t. A covetous heart is a discontented soul. The only antidote to coveting is contentment. Are you content in who you are and with what you have? If not, you will struggle with covetousness and envy.
The Bible teaches us that contentment is not something that comes naturally but is a learned trait. Our hearts are naturally evil and selfish because they are sinful. We’ve all been infected with the same disease called sin. Sin always wants more and is never satisfied. In Philippians 4:11-13 the Apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Are you content in whatever circumstances you find yourself? This is a liberating reality that you can learn. Whether you are in need or have plenty, you can learn to be content if you know the secret that Paul discovered. The secret is to draw on Christ’s strength. “I can do everything through (Christ) who gives me strength.”
Contentment is realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness. In fact, in this same chapter of Philippians in verse 19, the Bible says, “… my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Let that truth sink in and you’ll learn the secret of being content!
The Ten Commandments end with an emphasis on being a good neighbor. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God and the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we love God and love our neighbors, we won’t covet what they have, steal from them, lie about them or do any of the other things God commands us not to do. This is why love is the fulfillment of the Law. Romans 13:8-10 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
These laws were given to lead us to Christ who alone can change our sinful hearts and give us the love we need to obey Him and to care for others.