We are one of the most self-conscious, self-centered generation in all of history. Some 93 million “selfies” are taken every day in this country.
We are obsessed with “Self”! The Tenth Commandment warns us about elevating “self” to the status of God: “Do not covet!” This was the “original sin,” the basic sin committed by Adam and Eve.
Satan tempted them to eat of the fruit of the Forbidden Tree. When Eve looked at the fruit, she desired it, she craved it, she coveted it, she had to have it! That was her sin — desiring what belonged to another, belonged solely to God; craving what did not belong to her; coveting something that was forbidden.
There was no need for Adam and Eve to take the fruit from the Forbidden Tree; God had already given them everything they actually needed in order to have the best life ever!
God has factually said: “If you eat off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will be on a level with Me”; therefore, to “covet” is to elevate Self to the level of the Lord God Almighty.
To “covet” is to give in to that intense desire to be more than we were meant to be. To “covet” is to give in to that overwhelming craving to satisfy Self. To “covet” is to give in to the temptation to own everything and to control everyone.
When we “covet” we declare that we no longer need God, that we are self-sufficient. Whenever we “covet” what rightfully belongs to another person, we are not only robbing that person — we are also robbing God.
For, in fact, we own nothing; God owns it all. We are merely renters, entrusted with using what the Lord God gives us.
The sin of coveting most often leads us to commit other sins! “Don’t covet you neighbor’s house.” The desire to “keep up with the neighbors” leads to false pride, greed, jealousy lies & deceit –all in the effort to increase our self-worth.
So, people go deeply in debt to acquire things they do not need. Nations declare on other nations because they desire their “house,” their territory.
“Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.” To do so leads one to lust after what belongs to another, to commit adultery, and to destroy families. “Don’t covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.” That’s why people steal, why people commit murder, whey they give in to hatred and anger against their neighbors.
As Christians, we are committed to overcoming covetousness. (1) We know our place; God alone is God and we are His creation. (2) We believe that God alone owns everything on earth & in Heaven; we are merely tenants/renters — we don’t own anything. (3) We know that God is excessively generous; He blesses us with an abundance — our lives are running over with all that God gives us. (4) We must learn to be content with what we do have and to be satisfied with who we are. (5) We are to resist the temptation to desire what we cannot have, to crave what we do not need, and to place Self ahead of God.
When Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan came and tempted Him: “If you bow down before me, I will give you all the kingdoms of this world, plus all the riches & wealth on earth.” Jesus just laughed at Satan.
“You gotta be kiddin’ Me! All the kingdoms of this world already are Mine. And all the riches and wealth on Planet Earth already belong to Me. I own everything; there is nothing you can offer Me that is not already Mine. So, Satan, git outa My face — and take your pack of lies with you!”
And that is why we Christians do not need to covet; for, as followers of the Christ, we are heirs to all the riches of Earth and of Heaven! AMEN!
By Dr. Don Kuehle
(Dr. Don Kuehle is a retired United Methodist pastor in Missouri.)