“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
God invites us to live a life of fullness as he promises to supply for our every need. Yet, because of sin, God also knows we are covetous people wanting more than what is healthy and good. The commandments against coveting provide necessary parameters for God’s people. The ninth commandment invites us to live a life of fullness depending on God’s abundance. We fail to keep this commandment when we compete with our neighbor for material goods, comfort and status. Yet, not only are we consumers and competitive beings, we are also sexual beings. The desire for competition and conquest also permeates our relationships. Thus, God said, “…you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
The tenth commandment teaches that we are not to covet our neighbor’s spouse, yet all too often we learn of extra marital affairs between friends and fellow co-workers. There are endless examples and instances where a husband or wife engages in what is considered “innocent flirtation.” All too often, this leads to preoccupation, desire, and ultimately brokenness and divorce. This also happens with singles while dating. Such behavior often pits one friend against another in order to steal away a significant other from them. The bottom line is that because of sin and separation from God, we are covetous people. So what do we do? There can be but one response; love God.
In his explanation of these commandments against coveting, Martin Luther restates that we are to fear and love God above all things, above our desire for status, our desire for material goods and especially our desire for another’s spouse. We are to remain steadfast in our relationships and loyal to our neighbor. God continues to provide for our every need. As we love God above all else, our wants will not take precedence, our status continues as children of God and the love we share is an example of God’s desire for his people.
Lord God, keep us steadfast in our relationships, that we may live with fullness and joy as you continue to provide all we need. Amen.