A Very Real Sin

Exodus 20:17

While the first nine of the Ten Commandments deal with outward actions, the last commandment deals with an action of the heart: coveting. In fact, it is something we may not even realize that we are doing. Yet God clearly specifies it as one of the top ten things He wants us to know.

What does it mean to covet? It doesn't mean that it is wrong to see something you like and wish you had it. That is not necessarily coveting. God said, "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, emphasis mine). Notice the context is something that belongs to someone else.

The New Testament translates the Hebrew word for "covet" as the word "lust." So how does coveting work? The eyes look at an object. The mind admires it. The will goes over to it. And the body moves toward possessing it.

Let's say that your friend has just bought a new car. You say, "Wow, that is a cool car!" Then you go out the next day and buy the same car in the same color. That is not coveting; that is copying. But let's say that you take your friend's new car for a spin around the block and never return. That is coveting that has given way to stealing. Coveting is wanting something that belongs to someone else and determining that you will get it, no matter what.

Coveting can infiltrate so many areas of our lives-and it can destroy them. Marriages are destroyed. Careers are destroyed. Families are destroyed. It happens all the time. Coveting is a very real sin-and we will pay a very real price for it.