I’ve decided to shorten up our introspective look at the 10 Commandments by combining the 9th and 10th commandments today which will be our last day. By the way, how’s your manger looking?? Is it empty and waiting for Jesus?
Exodus 20:17 begins “You shall not covet…” What does it mean to covet? In the study notes in my Bible it’s defined “to desire something with evil motivation.” The Holman Bible Dictionary says this, “Inordinate desire to possess what belongs to another, usually tangible things.”
As the passage continues we see where are not to covet our neighbors house. The Lord had given this commandment, knowing that when His people were living in the Promised Land, each family with their own allotment of land, that some within the community would desire another’s property. The Holman Bible Dictionary goes on in its definition to say that while the Hebrew word for “covet” is often translated “to desire”, here in the 9th and 10th Commandments it has a stronger meaning, “an ungoverned and selfish desire that threatens the basic rights of others.” There were land-grabbers at the time who would covet small farms, seizing them for their own profit. This is what the Lord was warning against.
As Exodus 20:17 concludes we learn we are also not to covet our neighbors wife, his manservant, maidservant, his ox or donkey or anything else that is your neighbors.
Luther writes in his meaning of the Tenth Commandment, “We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.”
At the heart of covetousness is a feeling that God has not provided enough for you. In the parable of the Rich Landowner in Luke chapter 12, Jesus warns against greed and says, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” As the rich landowner constructs new barns to store his abundance his very life will be taken from this earth and his abundance given to another. Jesus’ final words in this story are chilling, “So it is with one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich towards God.”
So what does our final look into our mangers reveal? Do you desire the riches of the world or the possessions of your neighbor? Do you wish you could have a relationship with (or like) someone else? James warns in chapter 1 verses 14-15, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
We would be wise to empty our mangers of desires for things that the Lord has seen fit not to give us. This may be a difficult one to deal with, we may have to leave relationships that are unhealthy, we may have to give up plans to “become rich”, we may have to lay our desires down before the Lord and walk away from them.
Heavenly Father, giver of all good things, I lay down my desires, those things I covet with an intent that is not holy and pleasing to You. Guard my heart that it may not be tempted by the things of the world, but that I may be content with Your provisions and the love of my family and friends. In Jesus’ name, amen.