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.


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