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What the Bible says about Covetous Thoughts
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 5:21

Covet means "to desire" or "to take delight in beyond God's acceptable bounds." It indicates "to long after a property that belongs to another in order to enjoy it." It is covetousness to allow oneself to indulge in thoughts that lead to actions named in the other nine commandments. They are grasping thoughts that lead to grasping deeds.

Coveting normally arises from two sources. It often begins with a perception of beauty in a thing desirable to possess. It also arises from a persistent inclination for something more abstract like a desire for power. The first is generally stimulated from without, the second generally from within. Both are equally bad.

One commentator stated that he believed all public crime would cease if just this one law were kept. Another said that every sin against one's neighbor, whether of word or deed, springs from the breaking of this commandment. James 1:14-15 seems to agree: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."

In the Exodus 20:17 version of the commandment, the word "house" implies household. Subsequently, six other items are listed so that we clearly understand that "household" is meant. In Deuteronomy 5, "wife" is moved to first position as the very crown of one's possessions, and "field" is inserted because earlier, when God gave the Exodus version, fields were of no concern to pilgrims who possessed no land. Thus, between the two wordings God provides a seven-fold safeguard of other people's interests, revealing the underlying concept of outgoing concern.

In this commandment, we step from the outer world of word and deed into the secret place where all good and evil begins: the heart. The inner life actually determines a person's destiny, as the desires of a person's life are held and nurtured there.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment

2 Samuel 13:1-2

He did not love her; he was lusting after her. Notice the initial fruit—distress! The story continues, eventually revealing that his lust produced rape. It did not end there but produced more evil fruit: "Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, 'Arise, be gone!'" (verse 15). So much for lust producing good fruit! How many teen and/or young adult lives have been severely damaged by unwed pregnancy resulting from coveting?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment

Proverbs 28:16

Learn to hate covetousness, not things. Consciously study, meditate upon, and observe what covetousness produces. It violates the basic principle of God's way of outgoing concern. Coveting keeps us from thinking like and listening to God. Being aware of the trajectory of a thought can help us avoid allowing it to have its way in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)

Related Topics: Covetous Thoughts | Covetousness


 

Jeremiah 6:10-11

God indicts the entire nation for its covetousness. A major reason why coveting is so dangerous is shown by our credit system, which is based on the premise of possessing something before one is actually able to afford it.

In this profit-producing scheme, advertising is credit's companion. The marketer's purpose is to speed up the business, possession, and profit cycle. However, in reality over the long haul, credit actually slows things down and makes items more expensive because the credit must be paid for through interest in addition to the item's original price. It also creates greater debt, enslaving the debtor to the creditor. This same principle is at work in every other unlawful act of which coveting is a part.

Who will listen to this reality? Through America's almost insanely massive and ever-growing indebtedness, God is demonstrating that people simply will not heed either sound human or divine advice because their minds are driven by the desire to have whatever it is that they want right now. It has a grip on the heart so strong that nothing yet has been able to break it.

This tenacious hold is why tithing comes as such a shock when people learn that God requires it. Many are living way over their heads. When they learn of tithing, the penalty for their earlier stealing from God greatly influences current spending. They must then learn to pay in adversity, sacrificing as they go on in obedience.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 




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