September 12, 2014
by Skip Heitzig
The tenth commandment—"You shall not covet" (Ex. 20:17)—is different from the other nine. It can be broken without anyone seeing it, because coveting is an inward attitude, not an outward action. This commandment probes the heart and touches on our desires. It deals with what we want, not just what we do.
But "stuff" won't make you happy. As Solomon said, "No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied" (Eccl. 1:8, TLB). That certainly nails it!
Coveting shows a dissatisfaction with God's provision. Covetous people will compare what they have with their neighbor and feel shortchanged. Coveting damages relationships with others. How can you love your neighbors when what they have is the object of your covetousness?
And coveting leads to other forms of sin—it spreads. Lot desired the land near Sodom, and that led to physical and moral danger for him (see Gen. 13-14, 19). Achan took what belonged to the Lord, and that caused the defeat of the Israelites in battle (see Josh. 7). David coveted the wife of Uriah, which led him to adultery and murder (see 2 Sam. 11).
So what is the spiritual antidote to covetousness? It's a lifestyle of contentment, the satisfaction that comes from realizing God knows my needs and provides for them."I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (Phil. 4:11).When you are content, it means you're saying, "What God has given is enough." Contentment doesn't come from what you have; it's independent of that. It comes from Whom you have. Note also from that verse that the cure must be learned; it's not genetic.
Contentment is related to godliness (see 1 Tim. 6:6). The more godly you become, the more content you become. Contentment is rooted in eternity (see v. 7). Our treasures are in heaven; we brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing with us. Contentment rejoices in essentials (see v. 8). It enables you to say, "This is all I need." Contentment is ruined by craving more (see vv. 9-10). Those who lust after things are falling into a trap.
The cure must be practiced. How? With a single eye—with a focus on eternity, because things are passing. With a loose grip—because, again, we will carry nothing out of this world.And with an open heart—practicing generosity.
Consider how the Lord has provided for you and taken care of your needs. What do you need that you don't have? More money? More things? If your focus is on a dream house or a dream spouse or a dream car, could the problem be with your dreams?
Riches are not in themselves evil. It's what they do to us:covetousness binds us to the temporal, and it blinds us from the eternal. So have a light touch, not a tight grip. Remember, happiness is never from the outside in, but always from the inside out.
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