“Thou shalt not covet.”
It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? One of the hardest commandments to obey, I think, because it’s not a matter of avoiding an action, like murder or lying. Coveting is about controlling your thoughts. Your wants. I mean, who can help wanting what they want?
Yet there it is. Do not covet. “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.”
And that includes the spiritual. Ephesians 4 says, “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers… for the edifying of the body of Christ“. Now, Paul assures us in 1 Corinthians 14 that we are to desire spiritual gifts, but he also says, “let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” I think very often our desire for someone else’s gifts or talents is self-serving. We want the recognition or the position or the rewards we think will come with it.
I believe that if you want anything you don’t have, it’s coveting. It’s a hard concept to come to grips with. It doesn’t have to be admiring the whatever that whoever has. You want a different house? A different job? A different wardrobe? A different car? I think if we want anything we don’t currently have, it’s expressing disappointment in the blessings He has given us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever find myself wanting worse conditions than I have.
There’s nothing wrong with ambition. There’s nothing wrong with striving for improvement in your life. But is it because your heart is dissatisfied? Maybe a little introspection would be a good thing.
And believe me, I don’t say this as someone who never wants things. It’s just something I constantly analyze in myself. My motives, ya know? And for every, “I wish I had more clothes” I think to myself, is it paired with a “Thank you, Lord, that I don’t have cancer”? Not even close.
Maybe gratitude is the antidote for desire.