Do you ever find yourself thinking, “When I’m married, then I’ll be happy…” or, “When I lose that 20 pounds…then I’ll be happy” or even, “When I make ‘x’ amount of dollars and buy that house…then I’ll be happy”? Or maybe you find yourself comparing yourself to others and you think, “To be successful, I need to be as thin and attractive and make as much money as that person.”
We live in a culture where we’re taught to believe that more is never enough and our success is based on how we’re doing in comparison to others. But the truth is, this kind of thinking only results in dissatisfaction and disillusionment. This is why most of us possess so much, yet we enjoy what we have so little.
It’s these ways of thinking that produce what the Bible calls “coveting.”
Coveting can best be described as an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish and passionate desire that leads us away from God and corrupts our relationship with others.
The last of God’s Ten Commandments warns us about the dangers of coveting. The command is: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)
In this command, God is saying that we are not to strive for or passionately desire anything that another person has. He wants us to know that we don’t need more to be satisfied. And we don’t have to believe that to be a “real success” we need that luxury car like our neighbor, or to have a body like that celebrity we want to emulate.
Most of all, this is a command of the heart. It’s not simply a legal code to relegate our actions, but it’s a divine saying to govern the innermost being of our hearts. It concerns our desires, drives, and goals and prohibits wrong thinking.
So why would God give us this command? Isn’t He asking us to do the impossible? At sometime or another, we all covet something or someone, right?
Many of us tend to forget that the Ten Commandments didn’t come from a person or staunch leader, but from a loving, personal God who delivered His people out of slavery. More than anything, God wanted the Israelites to experience an abundant life. His purpose in giving us His boundaries – the Ten Commandments – is not to bind us to a straightjacket of rules with which to condemn or control us, but so we can enjoy the deepest relationship possible with Him and with others.
God does not want us to covet but instead wants us to be content because He knows that contentment produces peace, joy and love. And God wants us to experience that! He wants to put a boundary around our personal contentment and our joy because He loves us. And He wants us to experience joy and contentment with Him in what we have, who we are, and where we are today!
So how do we find contentment?
- Stop comparing yourself to others. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.” (2 Cor. 10:12) Don’t compare your house, body, spouse, etc., with what others have. When we do this we are without understanding. Instead of judging others’ motives or expectations, why don’t we just admire them instead.
- Rejoice and give thanks in what you do have. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18) Instead of focusing on your circumstances or what you don’t have, think about what you do have – and thank God for it! Until God gives you something different, it’s His will for us to thank Him for the things we have today.
- Share what you have to help others. “Give and it will be given to you.” (Luke 6:38) Don’t put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain. Put your hope in God because He richly provides things for you to enjoy. Do good with what God has given you and be willing to share it. And start doing it in the little things. Share your time, your money, and your stuff.
This week, we will be starting a new series, God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living. In it, we will take a fresh look at the Ten Commandments. It is my prayer that through this series, you’ll discover God’s boundaries for your highest, best and most abundant living.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip