Jump Start # 1986
Exodus 20:17 “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 belongs to your neighbor.”
All around us, nearly every day, we witness the world collapsing around powerful males who used their position to do what they wanted. They believed they were untouchable and their sins would never come back to haunt them. At the top of their world, these men used their influence and position to take advantage of those who were just starting in that field. This allowed them to prey upon young females which only fueled their lusts and their egos and power. They were the best in their world. Hollywood. News media. Radio. Sports. Politics. The hidden secret that one had to sleep their way to the top is now being found to be true. But in many of these recent allegations, these immoral encounters were not mutually wanted. It was pressure. It was force. It was against their will.
This outcome of this will bring changes in the work place setting. There will be stricter guidelines enforced about what is acceptable and what is off limits. But a society that has turned it’s back to divine rules from Heaven will not long follow rules manufactured by man. Lawsuits and the threat of a career ending firing will cool the heels of some who have no regard for marriage vows nor respecting another person. For many of these high profile people, their legacy will not be their work or their accomplishments, but rather, how all of this came to an end. They will be tied to this sin and defined by this sin.
Long ago, our passage today, the last of the Ten Commandments, set before Israel the importance of keeping your eyes off of your neighbor and his stuff. Coveting, wanting what is not lawfully yours, and cannot be yours, is where this begins. Coveting takes place in the heart and the mind. It begins as a thought. That thought lingers and dwells. It builds into a desire. Then it explodes into a passion that one has to have what his neighbor has. Ahab wanted a neighbor’s field. Jezebel worked it out to steal it for her husband. David wanted a neighbor’s wife. He worked it out to have her. Achan wanted gold taken from the conquest of another city. He got it. He hid it in his tent. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look good before the church. So they lied about how much they sold a piece of property for. Coveting was behind all of these sins.
Coveting—it messes with our mind. It gets a hold of a person until he doesn’t see clearly nor think rightly. Coveting your neighbor’s wife is the first step that leads to the tangled web of adultery, lying, deceit and cover up. David was there. Every day we are hearing about high profile people who followed the same steps. People are shocked and disappointed. Families are hurt. Reputations are ruined. Careers are destroyed.
Paul referred to evil desire, immorality, passion, greed as idolatry. It becomes our god. We can’t get it off our minds. We are not satisfied until we get what we want. It’s more than a thirst or a desire, it becomes an obsession. It’s a religion. This is what coveting does. It doesn’t have to be sexual sins. We can covet stuff. Commercials are really good at planting those seeds into our brain. We are never content while coveting swirls around our head. We have to have that new car. There’s nothing wrong with our present car. In fact, it’s paid off. But that new car commercial is stuck in our head. It’s all we think about. We drive by the dealership just to look. It’s a terrible time financially to be thinking about this, but here we are. There are more pressing things that we need to use our money for, but there we sit behind the wheel. Our heads tell us that this isn’t the right time. Our family tells us that we shouldn’t do this. But coveting has taken over. We won’t listen to reason. Nothing will change our minds now. The course has been set and we are going to sail that direction. Papers are signed and off we go driving something that we shouldn’t be. What happened? Coveting got a hold of us.
Pornography is built around coveting. It’s nothing more than looking at someone who is off limits to you but it builds evil thoughts in your heart and the passion gets out of control. Like a drug, porn gets one addicted until he is conquered. Reason, sense and even guilt are not enough to sway the coveting desire for more lust.
Do not covet. That’s our verse. That’s the last commandment. That’s been the problem for a long time. It’s behind every affair. It’s involved in every theft, from shoplifting, to armed robber. It distorts, it changes, and it ruins a person. Our times are shocked by the behavior of so many high profile men who were immoral, abusive and thoughtless to the people they hurt. Coveting was behind it all. Living without God opens the door to grabbing anything you want, whether it’s a bag of potato chips from a store or a female employee. Office place rules may scare some into behaving decently while at work, but it is only a band-aide to a much greater problem, coveting. How do we keep our eyes, hands and mind off of other people and other things? If it doesn’t belong to us, leave it alone.
The last of these Ten Commandments is tied to the very first of the commandments, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Telling people to stop being rude, offensive and abusive won’t work. It won’t last long at work. It will never work in society. All the movies and all the TV shows glorify coveting your neighbor’s wife. That fills the heart and that feeds the coveting desire.
No, the only way to keep our eyes, heart and hands where they belong is to have no other god but The God, Jehovah. To love the Lord with all that you are, will lead you to being pure from the inside out. It will lead you to want to please Him. It will open your eyes to how He has blessed you and cared for you. Be content. Be joyous. Be holy. That stops the run-a-way train of coveting.
God could say in this last command, Don’t covet, because of what He said in the first command. Getting wicked people to become decent, moral and behaving, will never happen as long as God is not part of the equation. It all starts with God. No other god but THE GOD. That’s been the problem. Too many have acted as if they are god. They have been a law unto themselves. They have done whatever they felt like. They were above all rules and all laws. They were better than everyone else. They collapsed because they were not God.
Thou shalt not covet. There is no other god. Link those two together and hearts will begin to change.