When I start to read the Ten Commandments, I usually get bogged down with guilt before I get to number ten. No murders or anything, Just the first two are big ones. So when I read, Thou Shalt No Covet, my first thought is, “Great, I’m good there. Ummmm…what is covet?”
Because it made the big ten, I suppose I should know what it means. Dictionary.com is says that covet means:
1.to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others
2. to wish for, especially eagerly3. to have an inordinate or wrongful desire.
Well, it is possible, maybe just once or twice, that I could have had an inordinate desire for something some time. Fortunately, I don’t need a website to clarify this. The commandment has specific things I am not supposed to covet.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
Well, I’m good there. No problems coveting houses.
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
That one could be a problem. More on that later.
or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey,
I have committed a lot of sins in my life, but coveting my neighbor’s ox is not one of them.
or anything that is your neighbor’s. Exodus 20:17
Crap. That make this command much more difficult. I can’t ‘inordinately desire’ anything that belongs to my neighbor. In that case, I have coveted a lot.
The key focus for this blog would, of course, be the part of coveting your neighbor’s wife. At a minimum, this would cover a large number of women who are stripping themselves online. Many of them are married and God specifically said you should not desire to have them. For that matter, it would cover those ladies that you think would have been a better pick than your wife. Do not covet them.
The thrust of the commandment is the flip side of Paul’s instruction:
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-7
We are not called to simply not covet, we are called to be content with what we have.
So back to wives. This means that if your wife is short, you are into short women. Is she skinny? Then you like skinny. Maybe she’s more plump. Then plump is really what works for you. Is she 20? Then you are into 20. Is she 90? Nothing better than 90! Whatever your wife is, that is your preference. You are responsible to love her as she is and to not pursue anyone else. YOU ARE TO BE CONTENT WITH HER!
I can hear the objections now. “But Chip, you don’t know my wife. She’s a witch on wheels and looks like a toad.” If a toad is how she looks then you need to pray the grace of God that you start to like toads. It wasn’t my idea to tell you to be content. You could argue it out with Paul, but he’s dead. So maybe you should explain to God why you are exempt from being content with the wife you have. There is not an exception for you, but there is grace for you to live out this command.
I know this isn’t easy. All of us struggle with contentment. But consider the joy of being content. Imagine how it would feel to be happy with your wife’s looks and the things you have.
I mean it, imagine for a moment.
Doesn’t that sound great? You can be free of the gnawing desire for more and better! That’s why Paul calls contentment and godliness GREAT GAIN! You would be the wealthiest man alive if you were both godly and content.
So the battle for contentment is a key part of the battle for joy. This command is not a burden. It is God commanding that we be happy! What an ogre up in Heaven? Telling us to be happy. The nerve of him. Why if he really loved me he would give me what I want, not make me happy with what I have.
Such bickering is common in us men and it needs to end. Take a moment and be happy for the grace of God to you that is you wife. She is God’s gift to you. Be content with her and with what you have.