Read His Words Before Ours!
Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17 CSB
From His very first words when God spoke the world into existence, His heartbeat has been to point us always to our need for salvation. Our natural tendency is to grab hold of the specifics of the Law and the ten commandments, and miss the purpose of the entire thing. Mankind always has been and always will be incapable of upholding every facet of the Law; there has only ever been One Who could fulfill it, and His Name is Jesus Christ. That being said, the ten commandments and the Law illuminate our inescapable need for a Savior, and the sin which so easily entangles us. Each individual commandment serves a purpose: to slice through our will and perspective and shine the light of God’s absolute truth.
Every commandment is aimed at illuminating our heart posture, but most speak specifically to certain behaviours or outward expressions of obedience. To covet someone or something, however, is a different matter entirely. Merriam Webster defines “covet” as to wish for something earnestly, or to feel an inordinate desire for what belongs to another. This is sin which takes place primarily in the mind and heart. In other words, it’s mostly a secret sin.
The biblical language found in the Scripture above may at first make it fairly easy to shrug off conviction. Most of those things are pretty far removed from our current culture, after all.
But what if we look at this commandment in a different light?
Here’s how I read it: Do not feel an immoderate desire for the things others possess. Do not be desirous of their spouse, or their children, or their financial situation. Do not wish earnestly for their abilities, or career, or gifts, or sense of humor, or health, or physique, or skin, or marriage, or family, or influence, or opportunities, or any other thing that I have allowed them to possess.
Woo. Ouch. It hurts because I’ve been guilty. I have been guilty of worshipping the idol of Self. I’ve fallen prey to the temptation to compare the details of my life with another.
Maybe you have, too.
Maybe you’ve experienced feelings of envy when a friend posts pictures of their new home.
Or wished your children could be as polite and well-behaved as hers.
Or wondered why you can’t have a marriage as steady as theirs.
Or dutifully listened to wedding plans, while longing for a relationship of your own.
Or sorted out how to praise God for their joy, while wrestling with why you are facing such loss.
Or listened to a friend’s testimony of healing, and wondered why He hasn’t done the same for you.
It’s not so easy to shrug off when we lean in closer, is it? And it’s multi-layered. Our culture is absolutely obsessed with feelings and self. Yet the Bible tells us that He clearly calls us to bring our feelings into alignment and instead be ruled only by our King, rather than by those feelings.
So how do we do that? If the ten commandments serve to illuminate sin and our need for a savior, how can we cooperate with what the Lord is revealing to us in each commandment?
The short answer is…we can’t. No amount of our own willpower, self-discovery, or any other thing in our own strength will enable us to eradicate sin from our own lives. We are absolutely incapable of cleaning our hearts and lives from sin. Only Jesus can do that, through the power of the Holy Spirit in a fully surrendered life.
Beloved, THIS is the Gospel.
But what does that mean? How do we live a fully surrendered life?
Day by day. Hour by hour. Choice by choice.
And every one of those choices must flow from a personal, repentant relationship with Jesus Christ. If we surrender ourselves to Him, turn from our sin and acknowledge His righteousness, He will place His Spirit inside of us and equip us to follow Him the rest of our days.
As the Holy Spirit convicts us of individual, personal sins, we will each find ourselves at a crossroads. We will be at a moment of choice. We can either choose to walk in life: to acknowledge the sin He is highlighting, repent, and align ourselves with His Word, or we can choose death: to continue sinning.
May we each always choose life!
Father, You alone are the King of kings and Lord of lords. Your majesty is unmatched, Your love unceasing. I confess that I have coveted what You have given to others. I have compared what You have given me to what they have and have desired what does not belong to me. Forgive me, and cleanse my heart and mind. I don’t want to be ruled by my emotions and feelings any more. I want to be in alignment with You and what You are doing and saying. My life and all I have are Yours. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!