In the Book of Common Prayer Communion service these words of Jesus are said before the offering: “So may your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” It’s a command to live a life of visible light and holy salt, full of God-honouring good works that demonstrate we follow Christ. What does that look like? Commandment 10: You shall not covet.
The verse (Exodus 20v17) lists houses, spouses, servants, oxen and donkeys but ends with ‘anything else that belongs to your neighbour.’ Pretty inclusive then! It includes holidays and promotions and salaries; it includes gadgets and gardens and cars. It encompasses children and abilities and opportunities. We are not to covet (desire that what belongs to someone else might be ours instead) anything at all.
The command is pretty simple. We are not to dwell on the fact that others have things that we don’t; we’re not to become bitter or feel resentment towards our neighbours because they have something that we don’t. Instead we are to rejoice with those who rejoice (over their spouses and houses and cars and gadgets and all God has given them) and to be content and thankful to God for all we have.
So let’s be clear, to covet is sinful. Why? To covet is to place our joy and hope in material or earthly things above Christ. To covet is to deny the Christian hope that true, lasting treasure is only found in Christ and in eternity. To covet is to disregard God’s goodness and grace to others and think that God got it wrong. To covet is to place our wants and desires over those of others. Coveting is materialistic and selfish; it shows the shallowness of our faith and fails to glorify God.
So, let’s examine our hearts this week. Watch how you react when someone tells you good news or rejoices over a holiday or car or whatever: Is your heart prone to covetousness? If so, acknowledge your sin and repent. Read through Ephesians 1 and list the blessings that are already yours in Christ, and ask that God would give you a content and thankful heart so that you can rejoice in all God gives to others, and be content with all the blessings he has already showered on you.