What Does It Mean To Covet?


Let’s all seek to be satisfied with what the Lord has given to each of us.

People love top ten lists. The top 10 songs of all time. The worst songs of all time.

Well, God has a top 10 list too. And one of the most often overlooked commandments in God's top 10 is “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17).

Let’s not misunderstand. You can admire your friend’s car, and even buy one just like it, but that is not coveting. Perhaps it’s copying, but it is not coveting.

Now if you were to go over and take it, that would be coveting. You look at it, admire it and your will desires it. The body moves over to possess it, and you step into the driver’s seat, turn on the key to start the engine, and you are off!

That is coveting, which has led to action! Actually, that would also be grand theft auto!

Coveting is underestimated

It is not wrong to desire a wife, but to desire another man’s wife is coveting.

Coveting is a powerful and underestimated sin. It can cripple you spiritually and ultimately destroy you. It must not be underestimated or left unchecked.

Think of some of the people in the Bible who threw it all away, because of greed and covetousness.

  • Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, coveted and lost everything.
  • Adam and Eve just had to have that forbidden fruit.
  • For 30 pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus.

The Bible gives this clear warning about the powerful sin of coveting: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).

This verse is often misquoted as “Money is the root of all evil,” but that is not what the Bible says. It says “The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after they have erred from the faith . . . ”

We might think that this is only the sin of the wealthy, but that is not necessarily the case. This is a description of a person who is obsessed with money and possessions, and will pay any price to get what they want. They will even sacrifice their spiritual life in the process.

Be content instead of coveting

It is not a sin to want to be successful in business and make a good living, but when you become obsessed with those things, it can become coveting. When they become the most important thing in your life, and you will do whatever it takes to get it, coveting has become idolatry, something that Colossians 3:5 warns us about.

So, let’s all seek to be satisfied with what the Lord has given to each of us. You may not get everything in life you had hoped for materially. You may not even get much at all.

But if you are a Christian, you have Jesus, and Jesus has you. As the old song says, “I’ve got Jesus, and that’s enough!”

Scripture reminds us, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

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