Both the ninth and tenth laws speak against the evil of coveting, which has led some Christians to number them together as law ten. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land” (Deuteronomy 5:21).
What really is coveting? It most certainly is not the same thing as wanting. There is nothing wrong with wanting a better life, wanting a raise, wanting to drive your own car instead of riding the bus, wanting a promotion, wanting to buy instead of rent a house, wanting to retire. Coveting is “bad wanting”: wanting something that permanently belongs to someone else, like a spouse; wanting something badly enough to decide to steal it; wanting something evil, like a piece of the drug trade; wanting things to the point of greed; wanting more things so badly it makes you discontent with your life. A whole world of evil is hatched first invisibly in a covetous mind and heart.
Healing for a covetous heart comes from taking inventory of the rich blessings God has provided, cultivating a thankful heart, repenting of every evil desire, finding a fresh start for the soul in the forgiveness bought by Christ, and by turning covetous desires inside out and deciding to look out for other people for a change: “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4).
Pastor Mark Jeske brought the good news of Jesus Christ to viewers of Time of Grace for 18 years. He is currently the senior pastor at St. Marcus Church, a thriving multicultural congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark is the author of several books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics. He and his wife, Carol, have four adult children.
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