The Heart of the Problem

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”—Colossians 3:5

The last of the Ten Commandments is the hardest of all to keep, I think, because it’s a matter of the heart.

Here it is: “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” (Exodus 20:17 NKJV).

Coveting doesn’t simply desire something that someone else has. Rather, coveting is when the desire for something that isn’t yours devours you. In the Bible, the word covet can be translated as “to pant after something.”

Think of a dog panting after his food. When you put the food into his dish, you’d better not touch that food, because it’s his food. It also brings to mind the film series The Lord of the Rings and the character Gollum, who was obsessed with getting the ring from Frodo. He called the ring “Precious,” and he had to have the ring. He was obsessed with it.

That’s what coveting is like. The eyes look at something, the mind admires it, the will goes over to it, and the body moves in to possess it.

For instance, you might admire your neighbor’s new car and buy one exactly like it. That isn’t coveting; it’s copying. On the other hand, when you admire your neighbor’s car, ask to take it for a spin around the block, and then never come back, you’re coveting. You’re also committing grand theft auto.

You saw what someone else had and decided you wanted it for yourself, no matter the cost.

It isn’t a sin to want to be successful and make a good living. But when you become obsessed with something, when it’s the most important thing to you in life, then you’re coveting. And it can destroy your life.

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