You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous (that is an idolater), has no place in the kingdom of Christ and God.
As the Ten Commandments close we are brought face to face with one that in some ways draws all the others together, as the first ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ set the foundation for those that follow.
Acknowledging and keeping the first (which because of the Fall we are unable to do) would pave the way for obedience to all. Similarly as number ten focuses on idolatry, as Paul puts it to the Ephesian believers, putting things before God leaves mankind in a perilous state.
Covetousness is somehow deeply rooted in all of us if we are honest.
The writer to the Hebrews tells his readers;
‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’ Hebrews 13.5
But throughout history people have always wanted what others have got, never content with what they have and the result is graphically spelled out by James in chapter four of his letter:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and so not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.(James 4.1-4)
What a commentary on the tenth commandment!
The challenge for all of us as we meditate on the clarity of God’s law as given us in the Ten Commandments is
Let us get our priorities right and place God at the centre of our lives.