“Thou shalt not covet…” (Exodus 20:17)
The opposite of covetousness is contentment.
In the age of Moses, societies that coveted would go on conquests and try to take what they wanted with violence. People who envied the Jones family wouldn’t work to have what the Jones family had; they would attack and loot the Jones family instead. (I’m really glad I don’t live back then..)
In modern times, covetousness traps us in acquisitiveness and prevents us from enjoying what we have. It traps us in a hostile envious state of mind that gets in the way of us realizing the work we need to put in to be blessed the same way.
Covetousness sees any reduction in the amount of goods one has as a threat, rather than a blessing, no matter the reason, no matter the goods. Covetousness sees more as better, no matter what. Covetousness has no conception of priorities or stewardship, no idea of consecration, no way to tell how much is enough, and no enjoyment of security. Security is always just out of reach.
Now, let’s look at the full verse.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)
If you notice, these are all tangible things listed. What about spiritual things? Is it okay to covet our neighbor’s spiritual gifts? Perhaps, if it provokes us to pray and seek for obtain those gifts ourselves in order to bless others as our neighbor does. And the cool thing about spiritual gifts is that they can’t be taken away and they don’t clutter the house! J
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