Bible Reading: Exodus 20:17
Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet. . . anything else your neighbor owns. Exodus 20:17
Shane has a professional-grade skateboard. Betsy has a rare show dog. Yoko has her own TV and phone. Francisco has a sound system loud enough to bust windows on a whole block. And Travis? He wants it all.
The crisis of wanting what everyone else has isn’t new. And God knew all about overheated wants way back at the time when he first gave the Ten Commandments. In fact, he thought that dealing with desire was a topic big enough for its own commandment. It happens to be number ten.
All nine of the other commandments deal with actions toward God and people. The one dealing with desire gets at attitude—the stuff we want.
In the tenth commandment God tells us not to “covet.” That’s a weird little word. But it means having a big desire to possess something that belongs to somebody else. Coveting isn’t just about liking a thing. It’s being miserable because you don’t have it. And being willing to do just about anything to get it.
God recognized all sorts of things that would drive us wild with desire—things we would covet. He listed houses and spouses, servants and animals, and the catch-all “anything else your neighbor owns.”
You might not want a friend’s house. (Well, maybe you do—the one with the swimming pool.) But your friends may have a lot of little things you want. And it doesn’t matter whether the goods belong to your next-door neighbor or to Mr. Wal-Mart or Mr. Best Buy. If you’re miserable with desire, you’re coveting.
There’s only one known cure for coveting. It’s contentment. It’s growing an attitude of gratitude for what you already have—whether that’s a little or a lot.
Does that sound impossible? It’s not.
Listen to how Paul managed to be happy no matter how much he had. He wrote, “I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:11-12). That’s contentment.
Having lots of stuff might or might not be God’s will for you. But being thankful is always in God’s plan when you belong to Christ Jesus (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Do you have an attitude of gratitude?
TALK: When have you wanted to get a good thing in a bad way? How can you encourage one another to lower your demands?
PRAY: God, we desire a lot of things. But we really want to desire only the things you want for us—in your way and in your timing.
ACT: Make a list of what you’re thankful for! Post it where you can see it!