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Aug 20, 2017

Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet

Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet

Passage: Exodus 20

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Love God/Love Neighbor: The Ten Commandments

Category: Faith, thankful

Keywords: 10th commandment, covet, ten commandments

When desires cross over and start to break relationships with neighbor, desires turn into coveting and coveting leads to brokenness.


“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.” — Exodus 20:17 (NIV)

I wonder what Moses would have to say about the Dulles Town Center? Coveting is certainly an interesting topic when you live in one of the wealthiest counties of one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.

So what's wrong with coveting? As George Carlin once observed, "Coveting your neighbor's goods is what keeps the economy going!"

Joking aside, coveting is a difficult concept for most of us.  I once spoke to a Roman Catholic priest who retired after 50 years of service. He reported having heard every type of sin confessed except for the sin of coveting.  

What does it mean to covet? My Merriam-Webster says "yearn to possess" anything which belongs to another. Visions of a panting dog come to mind.

Even the apostle Paul said that coveting was the sin with which he most struggled. I suppose this is because the other commandments cover external acts whereas coveting resides in your mind. "It's only in my mind" we might say, "What's the harm?" Coveting isn't about a thought just residing in your mind, rather a desire that begins to consume your mind. It's a deliberate desire — and it conflicts with the generous spirit that God expects from us. Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"

Mark 8:36 reminds us, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" and Matthew 5:28 proclaims, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Scripture reminds us of why it's important to pay attention to where we choose to focus our thoughts. We first begin to sin with our minds - and, if we're not careful, our actions may follow.  How do we combat this? Prayer is one antidote. Prayer can deliver us from the falsehoods which keep us from God's truth.

As I was leaving the Dulles Town Center one day last week, I saw a beat-up, old car with a beautiful bumper sticker: "Don't let my car fool you. My treasure is in heaven." 


Heavenly, gracious, holy Lord. We pray that we may always have thanksgiving in our hearts, that we place You in the center of our lives. When we become weak and covetous, we pray that the word of God will restore our souls to that which is pure, that which is commendable, and that which is worthy of praise. In Jesus' holy name we pray.  Amen.

Written by Rich Krygiel. Rich leads one of our men’s ministry groups at Arcola Church. He is a devoted husband and father.