Thou Shalt NOT Covet
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:17 tells us we shouldn't want what doesn't belong to us; that we shouldn't want to have something someone else has.
Yet I see the really sharp looking, fully accessorized pickup truck pictured above...let me go ahead and tell you - I am guilty of some coveting.
Think about the diversity of people you know. Think about all the things they own. It is at least understandable, even if you are a person who has always been of simple means and never looked for extravagance, to realize why one person might be tempted to take possession or just have temporary ownership of someone else's stuff. If this were not true, then why in the world would we ever have the old adage of "Keeping up with the Joneses?"
Call me crazy, but I have a feeling the good Lord knew what He was doing when He commanded us not to do this. Perhaps He knew all the different problems we would run into by wanting to have what other people have. From politics, to spirituality, to our own self-esteem, there is a wide gambit of aspects of our lives that can be effected by the mere act of coveting.
Haven't wars been started because one person or particular group of people wanted something that another person or group of people had in their possession? Let me throw a few examples of things at you that may or may not have been fought over: gold...treasure...oil...money...weapons...territory............women? As a matter of fact, you may be surprised at what you will find in the history books or internet archives relating to reasons countries or clans have gone to war.
Want more politics? How about entitlement, and anything related to it? Sure, there are certain things that even Thomas Jefferson stated were unalienable rights that all members of mankind SHOULD have...Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness. But notice, he did not say...the same stuff your neighbor has. Yet if you see how divided we are on social issues in this country, and how certain people think this group deserves this, and that group deserves that...and this group needs to pay more to help make up the shortcomings of the other groups, etc., you would think everyone is owed so much more than the cards they're dealt, as if LIFE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE FAIR?
Funny - I don't remember life ever being that way. I think some folks are missing a valuable lesson here.
Wait a minute; what did Jefferson say again? We should all have the right to LIFE (hmmm, those unborn babies - they don't get much say in the matter do they), Liberty (freedom from being controlled), and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (not a guarantee that you will have happiness). This does not mean we should all be able to afford the same things. This does not mean we should all be paid the same thing, no matter what service we provide... life doesn't work that way. We should all be able to have our own impact on trying to make some of these things happen - but it is not owed to us. I think this is lost on many of the minds in our country.
What about our spirituality? Though I may not have as specific of an example, what about from a broad perspective? If we are constantly concerned with this group of people getting to do this, and this other group getting to do that - will we not lose sight of what really makes us content in the first place? And of course, depending on your beliefs of the human spirit, and perhaps the afterlife - that may effect who you think needs contentment in the first place. You? Or others?
What about our own self-esteem? What makes me happy in the first place? If I am suddenly concerned about what someone else has, what does that have to do with me? What if someone looks the way I want to look? Is it healthy for me to want to look like that guy? What about someone else's skills? What if I want to be able to do that particular skill as well as that guy? (For example, I sure wish I could draw as effortlessly and skillfully as my book illustrator). If I become too obsessive with this fascination and focus on what other people have; what other people can do; what other people look like - couldn't that impact my own opinion of myself?
I don't have all the answers, but I wanted to bring this up so people might think about this command from God. Did He know what He was doing? Did He know how we would act anyway? Of course we could get further into the theology - but before we go and dwell too much on what someone else has, shouldn't we count our blessings and what we ourselves have...maybe not worry so much about the other folks?