Avoid the Door of Covetousness
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” - Exodus 20:17 (ESV)
It’s tempting to view God’s commandments as restrictive and suppressive. However, God is loving and desires to protect us. The tremendous and consistent theme of the Bible is God’s desire for a relationship with us. That’s mind-blowing! The Creator of this world and universe desires intimacy with me — with you — and consistently pursues us.
We are formed in God’s image, created with emotions, appetites, and desires. We are not robotic. We are individuals who desire and seek fulfillment. Unfortunately, we too often search for love in all the wrong places.
Our attempt to find true fulfillment gets hijacked by covetousness, an “inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or another’s possessions; a craving for possession.” I need that; I want that; I must have that. The “that” can be anything that distracts us from the only reliable source of our fulfillment — God.
A popular game show on television would show three doors to the contestants. Behind one of the doors was a bevy of desired prizes. However, the other two doors concealed unwanted treasure. If the wrong door was selected, the contestants went away disappointed that they had made the wrong choice.
Desire is the door that leads to satisfaction if it’s the right door.
Coveting diverts our attention from God (our True Treasure) by attracting our attention to things of lesser value, something we believe will bring satisfaction beyond our Creator. Coveting plants seeds of distrust. If God cares for me, why don’t I have what I want? Can I trust God to fulfill me?
Coveting turns us from pursuing our divine purpose (relationship with God) to people, possessions, and positions. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Like pride, covetousness is deceptive. Over time, we begin to believe we are responsible for satisfying our desires and that we know what’s best for us. There would be no stealing or adultery without coveting. Someone said: “Covetousness may begin inwardly, but it will eventually manifest itself outwardly.”
Sin is always a manipulation of that which began as good. James writes: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17a). Material things, relationships, or positions are not evil in themselves. However, when they become the focus of our attention, and we fail to see them as God’s gifts to us, we divert our attention to “things,” and lose sight of our relationship with God.
True satisfaction and contentment are not obtained by what we acquire or accomplish: They are a reflection of the One in whom all needs are met. Forsaking covetousness requires us to choose the right door. Jesus said:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” - John 10:9 (ESV).
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