I have been going through the Old Testament chronologically again this summer. And I love it. But recently, I received another slap upside the head. The last one came in the winter when I realized how much pride I suffer. This is completely disturbing, because God opposes the proud. I don’t want him to oppose me.
Six months later, I am in pain again. I guess, if I go through growing pains every six months, it isn’t so bad. We all are in need of spiritual pruning, right? And pruning hurts!
God Builds His Nation Israel
One of my favorite Old Testament books is Deuteronomy. It is chock full of specific, pertinent details for the chosen nation of Israel to remain pure, each one with a special purpose. God was building His nation, the nation through which He would bless all other nations, and He wanted to be intimately involved in every area of Israel’s life.
Today, we consider this a nuisance. To follow Mosaic Law is archaic. Many people think the Bible is nothing more than a rule book of do’s and don’ts. Yet, God had a master plan for His fallen creation. Every law He instituted was for the good of the entire nation of Israel.
We have lost sight of this, because we live in the Age of Grace. Even so, we still adhere to the Ten Commandments. Today, if you commit murder and are caught, it might not cost you your life and you might not have to flee to a city of refuge, but there will be a price to pay. You will lose your freedom.
If you are caught stealing or cheating in your marriage, there will be a price to pay. Doing wrong is costly. We understand that while the law has changed, there still is law.
Tenth Commandment in Deuteronomy
As I went along reading Deuteronomy 5, I came to the Ten Commandments. To be specific, I came to the Tenth Commandment. I was doing just fine, too, reading through the commandments until verse 21.
Why, you might ask, would I struggle with the Tenth Commandment, “Do not cover your neighbor’s wife?” It isn’t this part of the commandment I gasped at. It was everything that followed. I am frequently coveting my neighbor’s field. Now, I don’t actually mean the guy that lives next door to me.
Understand, I am surrounded by luxurious houses, here in the Med. There are gorgeous villas spanning all up the coast of Spain, through France, Monaco, Italy, San Remo and on and on. They are filled with lush gardens, swimming pools, views to the sea. Some are traditional and rustic looking. Some are sleek and modern with all the mod-cons.
In fact, I happen to live in one. And the view from my balcony is pretty impressive. People that come here never want to leave.
Perhaps my worst coveting, though, would presently by with my music. I have such a desire to glorify God with it, and for me that means giving it more exposure, which takes time and resources I don’t have. Of course, I commit my music and all my writing to the Lord, and let Him do with it what He will, but at times I wish I had the good fortune of others that have had commercial success.
So, what leads me to covet? What leads me to browse through the pages of Casa y Campo drooling over beautiful country homes? In fact, is it really so bad to wish to own a nice home? Why did God instruct us not to covet?
I had to turn my attention to this question and to meditate for a day on it. Here is what I have learned. The Tenth Commandment was unique in that God wasn’t forbidding and act, like the other commandments. He was forbidding desire. Now, not all desires are bad, so please don’t lose me here. But something about coveting must be binding. It must lead to something worse, like idolatry.
In fact, some would say, not all coveting might lead to sin, but certainly most sins begin from coveting!
If there is something or someone that you want so deeply that if you had a chance of acquiring the thing or the person you long for, you would take it, even if evil is involved. This is strong desire, this is coveting. This is forbidden.
Coveting what we don’t have, or can’t have, keeps us self-focused, or self-centered. Coveting wants more, and breeds discontent. This horrifies me! I am so guilty of this! And in the past, indeed, my coveting has led to gross sin.
Watch this space for Part 2
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…