So how is your wanter these days? Still broken? Mine too. There are things in this world that I want and I am willing to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy to obtaining them. Am I guilty? Yes. Are you?
Do not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female servants, ox or donkey or anything else that is your neighbor’s.
This last commandment has to do with your neighbor, but only in the sense that everyone is your neighbor. It is not specifically speaking about the person who lives next door. How could it when there commandments were delivered to a people moving around in tents? Trouble with your neighbor? Move your tent. Back then, they understood that everyone was your neighbor or potentially so.
Actually, it is just a way of personalizing don’t covet what does not belong to you. And we all do that at one time or another. Especially in this consumer society. Show me one person who has never been enticed—who has never wanted something they could not (immediately) have and I will show you someone deaf, dumb, blind and born and raised in a cave.
Quite beyond the commandment not to steal, this commandment strikes at the heart. Don’t even want it in the first place. Look at the lilies and the birds of the air. God knows what we need. Our place is to work, contribute and help our neighbor in his or her need, not go after the things that moth and rust will corrupt. We are to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before our God. Trusting. God will provide if we pursue what he calls us to pursue.
But in this world and in this society, our wanters are all broken. You want to live permanently stressed out? Focus on and strive for the intangibles: power, status, fame. You want to live a depressed life? Focus on and strive for money. You want to never be satisfied? Focus on and strive for the tangibles: that house, that dress, that ring, that car, that latest bit of technological wonder. Boy! There’s a recipe for dissatisfaction.
You want to be satisfied, content, at peace? Focus on and strive for God…
Now, having covered the 10 commandments and hopefully you have seen how every human being alive has broken all ten (how we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God). AND, hopefully you have discovered that the cure is Jesus and repentance and forgiveness of our sins. AND (finally) I hope you have come to see that forgiveness doesn’t let us off the hook learning to do better and trying to walk in his commandments (they are his ways). So now we are done? No, there is one more thing to do:
Next time: 10 commandments for atheists. Why it matters for everyone.