Monday, 21 June 2010
The Ten Commandments are a series of basic rules which God gave to the Israelites via their deliverer Moses. I memorized all Ten Commandments sequentially in CCD and grade school. I haven't bothered with them too much since. Of course, our society propagates a lifestyle that is slightly conducive to some of the commandments; but, there is one commandment that is absolutely off most people's radar. "Thou shall not covet."
Perhaps this commandment is forgotten because it is the tenth and final commandment. It may be overshadowed by "Thou shall not murder", "Thou shall not steal" or "Thou shall not lie". There are plenty of reasons why we can conveniently overlook this final commandment. Why do most people forget to live this commandment? How is this potentially the most important commandment? Would our day to day existence change if we rededicated our lives to this directive?
In my experience, a lot of adult Christians focus on the New Testament versus the Old Testament. The NT is a Gospel of love and forgiveness. The OT is full of words like judgment, wrath of God and punishment. Literally, if one were to choose the lesser of two evils, it would be to purely focus on the OT. But David says in the Psalm 119:160 that "The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever." God established all of His ordinances to last forever--even after the NT was published. Hence, the Tenth Commandment was still meant to be applied to our lives.
Words like commandments, ordinances, decrees and laws stir up negative emotions for me. Whenever someone tells me to do something, I naturally want to reject it. God's laws are given to us that we might be prosperous everywhere we go. When God instructs us not to covet or desire something that belongs to our neighbor, He is protecting us from self inflicted suffering. When we covet or desire something that doesn't belong to us, things like envy, jealousy, and rage set it. If we think that someone has something that we deserve, we'll want to even up the odds and secure that object, person or luxury that is rightfully ours.
In our culture, coveting is used as a mechanism to further consumerism. The United States of America is a nation full of insatiable consumers. We always want more. We're never satisfied. Moreover, we're taught to compete with our neighbor to have the best of everything. We want the best reputation for the sexiest, smartest and wealthiest person in our social circles. We might not admit it out loud; but it's true. It's hard to work more than 40 hours a week to survive while your neighbor works far less and always seems to have something better than you.
As rings true with most lineups, the best commandment was saved for last. Coveting is a common denominator in all the other commandments before it. When you want something that isn't yours, you aren't trusting that God has provided the best for you. You've violated the first commandment. Coveting will make you lie, cheat and steal to get what you want. Some may even resort to murdering someone's reputation, relationships or careers out of a desire for what they have. If the worship service finds you more concerned with the woman in the nicest suit, you have not kept the Sabbath holy.
I believe that our daily lives would be revolutionized if we stopped coveting what someone else has. Job satisfaction would increase and quality of life would improve. We wouldn't be tormented by feelings of never having enough. We would finally find the very thing we spend so much time, effort and energy trying to find. We would find contentment. Instead of drowning in tears of "poor me" and "why don't I have ___" mentalities, we should free ourselves of this undue anguish.
James 3:16 says: "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." Ain't that the truth too? Coveting, envying and selfish ambition give birth to the very worst of people. Be covetless.
Can you honestly say that you don't covet? How does coveting or not coveting effect your life? Do you think society at large has a hand in this self-inflicted suffering?