What does the Bible say about coveting?

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About coveting, the Lord stated in the Ten Commandments: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). These commandments were God’s moral law written by His very finger on stone (Exodus 31:18).

And in the NT Jesus, spoke against coveting saying, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry” (Luke 12:15-21).

The tenth commandment stands at the root of the other nine commandments. Most moral codes don’t go beyond the actions and speech but the tenth commandment deals with the thoughts of men and penetrates to the motive behind their deeds. It teaches us that God sees the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; Heb. 4:13) which prompts all actions.

People are accountable before God for their actions as well as their thoughts. For evil thoughts lead to evil actions (Prov. 4:23; James 1:13–15). A man may not commit adultery because of the social and civil laws that don’t allow such immoral action but in God’s eyes he may be as guilty as if he actually committed the action (Matt. 5:28).

Also, this commandment shows the truth that men are not the subject to their natural passions. For by God’s grace, they can subject every unlawful desire and inclination “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Coveting is a sin (Mark 7:21-23; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 6:9-10). Christians need to remember that they “will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:12) and will give account to their thoughts and actions (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13). Therefore, they need to develop the spirit of contentment and thankfulness that they may be blessed by God (Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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