There are, in the scriptures, numerous warning against being covetous. The most famous of these is the tenth commandment found in Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Jesus warned the disciples against it in Luke 12:15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Paul does the same in Romans 13:9, “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice the connection with keeping this and loving your neighbor. It was the very thing the tenth commandment stressed. Not to covet your neighbors possessions.
So then, coveting is not something we should do to our neighbor. It is not loving! But, what is covetousness? We don’t use that word much any more. From the Old Testament the word really has a simple meaning. It is this: don’t desire your neighbor’s gain. Don’t look at what he has and scheme on how to get it for any reason.
But this raises still another question, “Why is it bad?” Because it takes the place of God. What? We are told in the scriptures that it is God who provides for men. He makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Every good and perfect gift comes down from Him. It is God who determines what we will have in this life. And, we are to look to Him for all that we need. Hence the name of God in the Old Testament: Jehovah Jireh or, literally Yahweh provides. As Christians we are to look to God for all of our needs. Jesus says that He knows what we have need of. I could go on and on.
So, do I covet? Do we Covet? Knowing this truth has to have an outcome, an application, a point. Today many people look at those whom God has allowed to have much and say that they have too much and we should compel the rich to give to the government so that the government can give to the poor. But it is right here that we take the place of God. We decide who has too much and too little, or, we decide how much a person should have. America and Americans are no longer looking to God for what they need. We now believe we are entitled to covet.
Jesus said these words, “To whom much is given, much is required.” He will be the one who holds responsible those who have receive much in this life. They are accountable to God for what they have been given, and what they do with it. We need simply to look to Him for all that we need, to learn to be content with such things as we have and to thank Him for all that we receive. This will bring great blessing!