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Top Ten, #10 - What I really want

Topics:   lifestyle    faith    commandments   

Posted by Brad Quiring on March 22, 2015

Abundant Life has now wrapped up the series on the Ten Commandments, “The Top Ten”.

#10. What I Really Want (You shall not covet)

The modern pursuit of happiness is like trying to retain water in a sieve. Our pursuit of happiness has to do with things, relationships and circumstances that are favourable to us alone. Our minds focus on this and our hearts only desire these things which can never be attained or that never stay. Therefore, we are perpetually unhappy. God has promised us true joy and satisfaction through a relationship with Him and His sufficient grace given to us.

Definition of covet: “to Desire”. Is wanting something bad? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about our wants and desires.

First of all, we need to see that there are Godly desires. God gives us good things. God created everything and declared these things to be “very good”. Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:31

God gives us good desires for these good things. Without these good desires, we couldn’t live or have enjoyment in what God has given. He gave us the desire to succeed. Otherwise fear would rule our lives and we would not advance.

(Source: D. Stuart Briscoe, “Playing by the Rules”, pp. 163 - 169)

God gave us good desires, Godly desires. We have developed UNgodly desires. The tenth commandment, You shall not covet, strikes at the root of our problem.

Exodus 20:17, “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.”

We say, “Oh, if only I had my neighbour’s house, job, money, car, clothes, education, well-behaved children, etc. Then my life would be complete and I would be truly happy.” This is certainly the language of discontent at our own lot, and envy at our neighbour’s; and these are the sins principally forbidden here.

(Source: Matthew Henry’s Unabridged Commentary on the Bible.)

This law and the sin it deals with has to do with the inward motions of the heart. Not just the acts and words as in the previous laws. To covet is to:

Desire Excessively
Not the desire for a quantity of things, rather the quantity of our desire for those things. The amount of time and mental and emotional energy given to that desire.
Coveting will eventually eat up an enormous amount of time and energy. We will have no peace. We will have no rest. We’ve just broken the command about the Sabbath, where we are to trust God for what we need by resting.
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your pathsstraight.[a]

Desire Illegitimately This desire is all about, “ME”. We, like Adam and Eve, think we are God, thus breaking first commandment. We also then focus on the object of our desire instead of focusing on the true God. This is called, “idolatry” and breaks the commandment about making an image of another god and worshipping it.

Desire Exploitively Unhealthy competition because we will exploit our neighbour to be able to get what we want. We may even resort to lying, stealing and violence to get what we want for ourselves. Thus in breaking one law, do not covet, we break several others. It’s a chain reaction of commandment breaking!

(Source: D. Stuart Briscoe, “Playing by the Rules”, pp. 163 - 169)

The cure for coveting is CONTENTMENT.

1 Timothy 6:6 - 10

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV)

Contentment in its root means satisfaction, to have enough (Strongs). Therefore, when we are content this is what happens:

We achieve Great Gain and Godliness (v. 6)

We covet because we want to move ahead. Paul tells his protege, Timothy, that we get ahead by being content and having godliness, which is literally, “God-LIKE-ness”. To be like God is the greatest success we’ll ever experience.

We will have a Simplified Life (vv. 7, 8)

We were born naked and when we die we can’t take any of our stuff with us. Having our true needs met (food and clothing, verse 8) should enough for us as believers in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to chase after things, spending huge amounts of money, time and energy. Now we can focus on God and what matters to God. Life is so much simpler with one focus.

We experience Holy Living (vv. 9, 10)

When we live godly lives, lives that reflect who God is as image-bearers of God, we will avoid the ugly consequences of sin. We will avoid temptation and be able to deal with it when it comes because temptation always targets our weakness. When our thoughts are on God, we are stronger. We also avoid evil and all its horrific consequences – Loving money = Not loving God and not loving our neighbour. Result is falling away from the faith.

We have Confidence and Hope

When we are selfish, we don’t have faith in God and we don’t have trust in anyone but ourselves – yet we know that we are prone to fail, too. No confidence, no hope. Contentment results in having confidence and hope because our trust is not placed in ourselves, in things or in competition with our neighbours, it is in God who does not fail. (See below).

Hebrews 13:5, 6

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”

6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?”

God will not leave us or abandon us, in the good times or bad. We can have confidence and hope because God is our helper and we don’t need to depend on ourselves or other people. And when other people do come in to help us, it is because they, too, are powered by the unlimited God.

We will also lose our fear of the unknown, the insecurities that are tied to our unhealthy desires.

Finally, we will lose our fear of people.

Trust in God. Don’t chase things. Be content with what God has given you.

Proverbs 3:5 - 7

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and shun evil.