You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Friend to Friend
Have you ever been in a situation with other women when you felt inadequate?
I had that experience when I was a university student. Oddly enough, my school had a handful of beauty pageant winners and I seemed to sit near them in every class. I’d walk in a communication class and find myself next to Miss Pennsylvania. In another class, the beautiful young lady seated in the row in front of me ended up being Miss California. At graduation, I sat next to a different friend, Miss Virginia, who would literally become Miss America a few months later that year.
Surrounded by these lovely beauty queens, it was easy to think, “Oh no! How am I ever going to get married if I am not even Miss Neighborhood!”
We can compare ourselves unfavorably to others and covet a few crowns along the way. Whether it is someone’s high ranking title, happy marriage, dream job, or amazing wardrobe, it’s in our sin nature to want more than we have. To covet means “to wish for earnestly, to desire what belongs to another.” The Bible tells us in the Tenth Commandment not to covet our neighbor’s house, wife, servants, animals, or belongings.
In other words, don’t have an overwhelming desire to remodel your kitchen after you see your neighbor’s beautiful new cabinets. Don’t stew about your boring marriage as you think about your friend going on a cruise with her romantic dream boat of a husband. Don’t wish for a housekeeper like your friend has, or yearn for a designer purse like the one you saw at church last Sunday.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save money to remodel your kitchen, or plan an amazing vacation. You can certainly desire good things for yourself and pursue them. But there’s an important difference between wanting something, and wanting something that belongs to another person.
When you covet, want, desire what is someone else’s, you swing open the door for sin to enter. See how it is a heart of covetousness that lies at the root of other commandments? Adultery happens because someone wanted a person that did not belong to him or her. Stealing happens because someone wanted a possession that did not belong to him. Murder begins with a covetous thought and ends with the taking of a life.
Listen to the way you talk to yourself. Do you detect the language of discontent? I wish I had a house like that. Oh, if only I was married like her! I wish I had beautiful jewelry like my friend.
What can be done about our covetous ways? A heart of contentment is the cure. A heart that rejoices when others rejoice. A heart that says, “I have enough. I am satisfied.” Like the Apostle Paul, may we learn how to be in want and also how to abound. In every state we find ourselves in, may we cultivate contentment.
Even if we’re not Miss Florida, or Miss Hawaii, or Miss Anything.
Dear Lord, forgive me for wanting what other people have. I don’t want to act spoiled or ungrateful. I will count my many blessings today. Teach me to honor You with a heart of contentment.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Ask God to search your heart. Answer this question: Is there anything you are coveting right now?
More from the Girlfriends
Read more stories like Arlene’s Miss America tale in her book 31 Days to a Younger You. For more about Arlene’s other books, visit her website.
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