The tenth commandment — avoiding covetousness — is perhaps the most challenging of God’s divine directives. God is very concerned about what we think, as thought often leads to action. Covetous thoughts, those keen, overwhelming, selfish desires must be overcome. The scripture contrasts the passionate fleshly lusts and urges against the passionate godly desires. But how can we know whether our passions are good or bad? It is only through a thorough understanding of God’s law that we can understand is will. Those caught up in covetousness are those guilty of ‘anomia,’ lawlessness.
The covetous are unrestrained by God’s commands. They practice lawlessness through neglecting to do what is good, actively and overtly doing what is wrong, or tolerating the wrong-doing of others. In our time the politics of envy and covetousness, often allows theft in the form of shoplifting or arson, by ignoring the wrong-doing, or allowing shoplifters and arsonists a free pass if caught. Paul prophesied of this dangerous time, the last days, that would be characterized by covetousness, greed, sensuality, and a lack of self-control. And yet at the same time people would hypocritically boast about their faith — their spirituality.
Disciplining our Passions
Sometimes in an effort to counter the human tendency towards covetousness, the religious have tried to eliminate all strong passions. But that is not God’s way either. God wants us to be passionate about loving him, about loving our families, and about loving our neighbours. God’s way is to channel and discipline our passions so that they serve the highest and best good for others.
God’s command against covetousness was reiterated to the ancient Israelites as they were about to enter their Promised Land. Jesus, centuries later, reminded his followers that life was not derived from the abundance of their possessions. He warned them to guard against greed, for the covetous thought often leads to compromise and ungodly action.
The Tenth Commandment Matters
In our world movements like BLM (Black Lives Matter) and ideologies like CRT (Critical Race Theory) are manifestations of covetousness. In lust for power and materialism they have lied, stolen, and committed murder to promote BLM and CRT’s twisted sense of ‘equality.’ They have redacted and skewed history in order to promote their covetous agendas. But this is nothing new. They have no understanding of the tenth commandment, and the things that matter to God
Covetousness has deep roots and a long history beginning in the Garden of Eden. It was not enough for Eve to appreciate all the bounty of the garden and be content. She listened to the serpent’s sweet lies, and coveting the wisdom that he offered, she reached out and took what was not hers to take. The serpent had promised that she would not die, but rather that she would become like a god.
So Eve was led astray by her covetousness, stole, and then lied to cover up her mistake. Satan’s tactics are no less persuasive today. Just like Adam, many are willingly deceived by his corrupt messaging. They are ready to ‘drink the kool-aid’ in the vain hope of gaining the power, wealth, or safety they covet. But the end result is death.
As Christians we must be fully aware and guard against Satan’s devices. We must fight the battle of the mind, knowing that corrupt thoughts lead to evil actions. Remember Jesus’ admonition to remove any source of temptation, discipline our thoughts, and channel our desires to conform to God’s will. As Christians our goal is eternal life, and to attain that goal we must live in a spirit of gratitude and contentment, obeying the tenth commandment.
Jesus’ parable of the rich man warns us against the covetousness, of jealously guarding what is ‘ours.’ The man had a huge surplus of grain. But instead of sharing appropriately with God and neighbour, his only concern was to build bigger barns, so he could be secure and not have to work. This too is covetousness from God’s perspective. And, it is this self-serving “It’s all about Me!” attitude, that the tenth commandment condemns.
There is danger in allowing covetousness to dominate our thinking. John summarized it effectively as “the lust of the flesh, the longing of the eyes, and the pride of life.” But Christians know there is no security in these earthly things. For the world is passing away, and the covetous will pass away with it.
However, for those who love God and are passionate about doing what is good, we can have security and peace of mind. Why? Because God promises that he will never leave or forsake those who walk with him. He will bless his people with contentment, and peace of mind now, and a great inheritance in the future. The tenth commandment has much to teach us if we are willing to listen.
Learn more about Covetousness:
Thankfulness in an Age of Covetousness