ten commandments

Thou Shalt Not Covet For A Reason (It Makes Us Unhappy!)


“Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17) declared the Lord from Mt Sinai to the prophet Moses. How much unhappiness has been caused by the disobedience to this basic tenet of Christianity? I think most people think the reason that the Lord gave this commandment is that coveting will ultimately lead to inappropriate actions. And sometimes it does. Who can forget David coveting after Bathsheba which led to an adulterous affair and the death of Uriah! However, I think the most damaging aspects of being a covetous person is that it leads to an unhappy state of mind and life.

The complete commandment regarding coveting stated by the Lord is “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” We live in the most covetous society on earth. Why? Each day we are bombarded by ever-present voices that tell and show us things of this world that we “need” and don’t have. Those voices and images come via our radios, TV’s, computers, and now even by our phones. We are constantly having enticing images flashed before our eyes reminding us of what others have.  This blatant attempt by the sellers of the worlds good’s to promote avarice and covetousness is key to the promotion of their fortunes.

Much unhappiness and destruction come from our desires to have things even though we can’t afford them.  After all, our neighbors have them, why not us?  Many of us succumb to the temptation to buy and  then spend our hard-earned money on things that we really can’t afford. The marketers of high interest loans have become loan sharks preying on the covetousness of the people. It is  to their gain to promote the spirit of avarice and envy. Without conscientiously being disobedient to this law of God we, as a society, have been seduced and we are finding out that the long-term consequence of such disobedience is untold stress, family instability and a quest for the things of this world that can never deliver on the happiness that they promise.

Unnumbered hearts of faithful wives have been broken by their husbands when unkind words are spoken to them when they are compared to images of some other woman’s looks, talents, skills or personality.  Isn’t a man showing outward covetousness when he expresses such thoughts even if he doesn’t follow through with any inappropriate action? It’s equally damaging when a wife tells her hard-working husband how much she loves a girlfriend’s house, car or the neighbor’s vacations, and says that she too wants those things. Isn’t that a form of covetousness? How does that make her husband feel when he honestly can’t provide those same things?

Living a covetous life leads to unhappiness, depression, anger and a life of despair. There really is a reason that God made it one of His “top ten” when it comes to commandments. He is the author of happiness and knows that living a covetous life leads to misery. May we remember the obedience to this most important law will bring with it a life more joyous and one that is free of the mental anguish that comes to those that covet.



Listen To Your Mother


A number of years ago, I was reading in the newspaper when I came across an article entitled “Elusive family friendly TV.” Written by Linda Chavez, it opens with this paragraph:

“Am I imagining it or is television becoming even more family unfriendly? For years now, primetime television fare has offered a steady diet of comedies that depend on sexual innuendo and situations for laughs, crime dramas that make the world seem like it’s filled with sadistic predators and perverts, often within our own homes, and cable “news” programs that spend as much time dissecting the bizarre antics of this week’s celebrity bad girl (or boy) as they do covering real news.”

She ended her commentary with this statement: “You don’t have to be a child, or even have children in your home, to find this intrusion of Hollywood values into your living room troublesome.”

It is very clear, not only to us as church members, but also to other individuals, communities and groups, that the basic values of decency are under constant attack. I was reading in the same paper the review of a new television series that will be presented as “entertainment”.  The review of the show left me wondering if a “brown paper bag” shouldn’t be placed over every TV that airs it! Such crass shows reminds me of a memorable conversation I had with my mother shortly after returning home from my church mission to Argentina. We were at home sitting around the kitchen table talking. The television was turned on, providing background noise when our attention was drawn to a loud commercial announcing a new sitcom. From the promo, the new sitcom appeared to be rather salacious in nature. My Mom turned to me and said these prophetic words, “What is the world coming to, soon nudity will be shown right here on our own TV’s!”

I didn’t say anything at the time, but inside I laughed and thought to myself “Yea, right Mom!” At the time , which was 1977, I couldn’t have imagined what she was predicting.  Now some forty-five years later, it is clear that my Mother had great insight into the nature of sin. Extreme, unusual and sometimes even perverse images are daily presented to us as normal. Violent and degrading storylines are now routinely presented simply for the shock value. Its result is a coarsening of our senses and the deadening of our spiritual consciences. My Mother, like many others, understood that when you tolerate unholy things, it is just a matter of time until you embrace them. Although section eighty-nine of the Doctrine and Covenants was written regarding the eating and drinking of things that will pollute our physical bodies, I think it is equally important to understand its meaning regarding our spiritual bodies. It reads:

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—” (Vs. 4)

The “word of wisdom” that has come from our living apostles and prophets regarding the pollution of our souls is this: ” In a world that wallows in filth, be clean—in language, in thought, in body, in dress.” (President Hinckley-“I Am Clean”, General Conference, April 2007).

My mother has since passed away but I am grateful that she had the vision to warn me of the perils ahead.  As I survey my life I am oft-times reminded that “mother knows best”. Most of us would be wise to follow the loving council of our mothers, no matter what our age! I believe God gave to most mothers a natural intuition and keen spiritual promptings so that they can protect their children from physical and spiritual harm. Let us not be fooled into participating in things that will pollute our spiritual souls. May we not fall prey to the “conspiring men” who seek to profit from the destruction of, not only us, but our families! May we follow the wise counsel of the prophets and stay clean! May we take the time to thank our mothers even if they are no longer with us. Perhaps the greatest honor we can bestow upon them is to acknowledge the great influence for good they have had in our lives. Perhaps we need to take the time on a regular basis to review what they have to say.  Most often their words wax prophetic! This week I plan on holding a private conversation with mine. I won’t be able to have a conversation face to face. For me it will be heart to heart.  I will whisper from mine to her’s of my great love and appreciation. Then I will listen!



Reasons Known Only To God


It was mid July of 1977. I was driving cross-country on a tour of the Argentina Buenos Aires South mission with my companion and the Mission President.  The Mission President was riding in the front passenger seat, while my companion slumbered in the back seat.  It was nearing dusk as I peacefully drove along somewhere between the city of Bahia Blanca and Neuquen. Suddenly, out of nowhere I saw a slow-moving tractor pulling a wagon of hay directly ahead in my lane. I thought that I was traveling way too fast to avoid a collision so I glanced at the other side of the single lane highway, only to see a car coming in the opposite direction. I glanced to the right and found that we were coming right up to a small bridge and that veering towards the right would certainly result in the car going down the embankment and possibly overturning. No option seemed good so I slammed on the brakes hoping that I could somehow minimize the inevitable bad accident.

I really can’t explain what happened next, but when I put on the brakes, it seemed as if an invisible hand engulfed the car and brought it safely to a complete stop just in time to avoid rear-ending the slow-moving tractor. I remember sitting there and looking over at the Mission President who looked white as a ghost. I looked in the back-seat and saw that my companion was still sleeping undisturbed.  He was sleeping away without a care in the world. He never knew how close we came to a tragedy. I had no doubt then or now, that the Lord had a hand in protecting us that day. Why did He? Perhaps my companion at the time, Lloyd Newell, needed to fulfill his mission of being the spokesman for ‘Music and the Spoken Word’, which he continues to do.  Maybe I, or the mission president had a greater mission here on earth. I guess the reason is only known to God. Yes, we were in his service that day, but the scriptures are full of accounts where faithful men and women have perished while doing the work of the Lord.

Why then, does the Lord allow tragedy, and or, wicked men to persecute the righteous and yet at other times He wields His power? I’m not sure I have the complete answer but I do know that the Lord is in charge. It is clear from the scriptures and from my own personal experiences that the Lord does intervene from time to time in the lives of his children. But when tragedy strikes and the Lord doesn’t intervene to stop it, we should count ourselves in good company. More importantly, we should remember that this life is not the end of our existence.  Oft times we do not see the “big” or “full” picture.  Tragedy that comes into our lives can be hard to accept at times,  but if we have faith in the plan of salvation,  I believe our hearts can be comforted.

When we pray for deliverance, we must always remember the model prayer given by the Savior in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed: “…Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him”. (Luke 22: 42-43). I glean at least three things from this prayer. 1) He asked to have the cup removed. In other words, he believed in prayer and that it was effective. Why else would he have prayed! 2) He understood that his prayer was a request, but he was willing to accept whatever the Father decided, and 3) His father answered it in a different way than he wanted. He wanted the cup removed, but what he received was the appearance of an angel to “strengthen him.” There are valuable lessons to be learned from this exchange.

Voicing our desires to Heavenly Father in prayer is the right thing to do. But having faith in His decisions for our life requires much deeper faith. May we have the faith to both pray and to accept the answers that come from a loving Heavenly Father and the reasons that are only known to Him.


May Our Tongues Tastefully Delight In Being Covered By Words Of Praise


“The sometimes stern Duke of Wellington, in the sunset of his life, was asked how he could do better if he were to live his life over again. Said he, “I should have given more praise.” How many of us display that same deficiency?

Joseph Smith emphasized the importance of our understanding the character of God, one of whose attributes is love. Said he:

“Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race.”

When is the last time we expressed appreciation to our parents, siblings, loved ones or others? There are so many ways to do so, on a daily basis, if we but look and make such expressions a habit in our lives. Such praise will enrich the souls of both the giver and the receiver. Over my lifetime, expressions of appreciation to me from others, has often mended or built up relationships that have now endured the long and windy road of life. Such a blessing in my life!

I have long felt that we do not express enough appreciation to others for what they do. A small heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way in making someone’s day brighter. I also believe that a true follower of Christ will be filled with love and not only serve his family, but can be one to “bless the whole human race” by liberally giving praise to all.

Let our hearts be full of love, and may our tongues tastefully delight in being covered by words of praise for our God, and for all mankind!

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