“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
Do you covet?
I do. It’s a hard question to answer honestly. In most circumstances if someone were to ask me that question I would be quick to say no. And I would feel it to be an accurate answer.
When I think of coveting my neighbor’s things I think of people who want what they don’t have. Things such as the bigger.. or newer.. or prettier house than mine and all the beautiful decorations to go in it. The fancier and newer and even cleaner vehicles than mine. Some times I may even examine a little deeper and compare their family versus mine.
And again I would answer NO. I do not covet.
I am happy with my mostly messy mini van that could probably feed another child for a week just by dropped lollipops and amputated teddy grahams found between and under the seats and in every place meant to hold who-knows-what that almost always have melted crayons and something sticky in it. Yes this is the true state of my mini van and I am content with it. There is much life that goes on in that mini van but most important it gets us where we need to go.
And I am happy with our home. We are blessed with what I feel is a beautiful and comfortable home and even my dollar store knick-knacks have gotten compliments. Looking deeper I am still content and do not covet my neighbors family. I love my husband and that he is godly man and I love our three children.
But when I examine deeper I realize that I have been coveting.
I am guilty of having those thoughts during an argument with my husband or even sometimes a very stressful week. Thoughts that if only he were a more godly man like <insert name here’s> husband he would handle this differently or this must not be an issue in <insert friends name here’s> home because they are too ‘good’ to have these issues. I chose in that moment to covet my friends and their husbands perceived spiritual walk and then further compare my family to theirs, thinking my family is just not spiritual enough not God centered enough.
The reality of this is that I need to examine where I am at in my own walk with the Lord in those times and not judge my husbands or place blame on him. Also behind closed doors everyone has struggles; everyone has areas they excel at and areas that they fall short.
Then there are those times when I am in the grocery store and one of my beautiful children whom I love and would not change a thing… decides to act like a demon just jumped out of the candy bars in the check out aisle and into them sending them into and unmanageable mess. And in that moment when I am truly embarrassed and blaming myself inwardly for being a ‘bad’ mother because my child decided to have a very uncharacteristic outburst at of course the worst time; when I am standing in line with people watching behind me and with judgment all over there faces and the woman ringing out my groceries whose giving a look of intolerance that states she sees this all day from the ‘bad’ mothers that come through her line.
I find myself for a moment coveting again.
Coveting my friend’s children’s attitudes and spirit because of course she is a ‘good’ mom and her children are saints and would never have an outburst no matter how uncharacteristic it may be. It is pretty simple to look at something like the word covet which sounds so harsh and picture the obvious worldly possessions. But it goes deeper than that.
When Exodus 20:17 talks about not coveting what thy neighbor has, it goes much deeper into the corners of my heart — where the sun-don’t-shine. And examines through my cobwebs of real truth.
James 1:14 further talks about our own selfish desires and that those conceive sin. And when sin is grown, it leads us to death.
It is a hard thing to be vulnerable and to expose those deep places of my heart to the light. But that’s just what I need to do. I need to expose my heart, my whole heart to His light and His truth. This is definitely not an easy thing to do.
I can’t just call a friend up and say,
“Hey, lets get together and expose our hearts.. I’ve got a few things that will shock you and I can’t wait to hear yours! That’s not really fun ‘girl-chat’ stuff. But it is something that we can do with Christ, and believe me there is nothing that will shock Him. Even better yet…when I sit down and examine every part of my heart with Him there will be no judgment, instead He will help me through these hard to swallow realizations with Grace.”
Every great once and a while my mini van gets a good cleaning. I take a day (yes it takes a day) to clean it out. I gather up all the tissues and crumbs and lollipop sticks and of course peel off the melted crayons and sometimes I stop to build a Lego project from all the pieces I’ve found. I am shocked when I must separate all of the clothing and shoes I have gathered up from my van as it would seem my children are running around un-clothed because of the amount I’ve collected from the van! And when all the things are cleared away I can get down to the real cleaning. I go through it with a fine tooth comb and am sure to touch everywhere leaving nothing unclean.
That is how it is when we sit with Jesus and examine ourselves. Again He will go through with the fine-toothed comb of Grace if we’ve already accepted Him as our personal Lord and Savior or if we are doing it for the first time. He covers our hearts with His Blood so that nothing is left unclean in His eyes.
This is where it usually ends. But I feel this is where it gets real.
We must accept this great gift of grace and love and truly believe and understand it. We understand that we are loved in-spite-of who we are. We are forgiven of these things and now there doesn’t need to be any dark places in our hearts but His light can shine through.
It’s not always easy. As I admitted above, I have some dark places that needed a good comb through. But I must remember, as a believer.. I am forgiven and I am loved no matter what.
If you’re struggling with covetousness right now, I stand in prayer with you. Whether you realize you haven’t been content or not living His light shining through your heart and life. I pray that you will take it all to Him.