Monday, August 13, 2012

That's Still Not Yours!

Exodus 20:17 “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.”

Simply put, to covet is to desire and crave for something that isn’t currently yours. What many people may not know is that coveting isn’t always a bad thing! The Hebrew word that is used in the tenth commandment is “chamad” - it is variously translated as covet, desire, take pleasure in, lust after, long for, and enjoy. For many misguided christians, this doesn’t seem like a good thing! But let’s be clear, God is very interested in what is desirable, pleasing, and fun for us. He isn’t some “prude” in Heaven, ruling against any kind of fun or pleasure.

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Hebrew word for “pleasant to the sight” is the same word - chamad. God made the trees (and by inference, the whole of creation) to be enjoyable for us and pleasing to look at! God’s intention in creation was to make things we would want!

Psalm 19:9-10 “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Here we see that we should be coveting - craving and longing for - the judgements of God, found inside the word. Has there ever been a time in your christian life when you could say that you coveted (lusted for and craved) the words on the pages of the Bible? This is the healthiest place any believer could be in!

When we move into the New Testament, the good type of coveting is still apparent. The Greek word for covet is “epithymeo” - its meaning is still the same: desire, longing, lust, craving.

Matthew 13:17 uses this word: “...for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
In this verse we see Jesus telling His disciples that many righteous men coveted the very days that they were living in - the days when Jesus walked the earth!

1 Peter 1:12 shows us that it wasn’t just the prophets of old that longed to know the New Testament realities we’re living in - apparently, even the angels have this craving! “To them [the prophets] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

So we can see through these verses that there are times when it is right for us to covet some things! So when does coveting become a bad thing? When does desiring something become breaking the tenth commandment? The answer is simple. We can see the difference between godly and godless coveting in Galatians 5:17 -  “For the flesh lusts  (epithymeo) against the Spirit, and the Spirit [lusts ]against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Did you see that? There are two types of covetousness - spiritual and fleshly.

Fleshly covetousness is only concerned about desiring things that we have no right to possess. Coveting things that have been devoted to God (i.e. the tithe) is one of these sinful desires - just ask Achan (Joshua 7:21)! Proverbs 6:25-26 tells us all about the dangers of coveting the beauty of a prostitute.

But now let’s look at the things that the tenth commandment specifically warns us not to covet.

Your neighbor’s house...” - We are not to be jealous about where someone else lives.

...your neighbor’s wife...” - don’t desire to have someone else’s spouse! But even beyond that, don’t allow yourself to be jealous of someone else’s family (parents, siblings, kids, etc.).

...nor his male servant, nor his female servant...” - don’t envy their position in life. Don’t be jealous of their job, their influence, or the people that look up to them.

...nor his ox...” - Cattle and sheep were a means of livelihood in those day. Today we would say, “Don’t desire or crave your neighbor’s bank accounts or full wallets.” Don’t be jealous of their wealth!

...nor his donkey...” - quite simply, a mode of transportation. Cars, boats, motorcycles - don’t be jealous of their ways of getting from point A to point B.

...nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” - If there’s anything else that isn’t mentioned before, it’s listed right here. The point is simple, don’t desire something that belongs to someone else!

Your desires should be focused on the things that you have a right to possess. You have no biblical right to desire what belongs to someone else. In today’s society, especially in light of the various protests against the “rich”, it’s important to remember that this command still applies! You have no right in God’s eyes to even long for what someone else has - let alone demand a part of it! Let’s forget this “class warfare” mindset and move into total obedience to God’s Word. It’s time to bring our very desires in line with God’s plan for us!

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”

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