Letters to My Grandchildren: Coveting1
“Letters to My Grandchildren”: Remember when you asked me, “What does the word “covet” mean? Why is it wrong?” The word “covet” means to look away from all that you have and focus on what someone else has. God gave only ten special laws to help us to live well with Him and with each other, and “do not covet” is one of the ten. It is very, very important.
Have you ever seen a child happily eating his chicken nuggets (or his sandwich, or his pancake, or whatever else his parent packed in his lunch box) until he looked over at another kid’s lunch? Have you heard him say, “I want pizza (or yogurt, or cookies, or whatever is on the other child’s plate), I don’t want this anymore!” That is coveting. Looking away from all the good of what we have, and wanting what belongs to someone else. Even if that kid finishes eating his own lunch, it probably won’t taste as good as it did before he started looking around at someone else’s lunch, and wanting it.
Coveting is another “boundary problem”. Remember how much I like boundaries? One of the things that good boundaries do is to keep us contented. “Contented” means that we feel like a cat that is resting and purring, inside of us. God has given us many, many things that belong to us. Our own body, our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own clothes and bed, our own family, our own school or work, our own toys and pets, our own teachers, our own church, and many other things. He has even given us our own abilities, which are the things that we can do. We are not God, so we do not own everything and we cannot do everything. That makes it important to pay attention to what does belong to us, and to not worry about what does not belong to us.
When we stay focused on what we do have, it becomes better and we actually have a chance to have more. If a child pays attention to enjoying his own lunch, it tastes better and she eats more of it. When she eats all of her healthy food every day, her parent can trust her and give her a treat in her lunch box, because her parent knows that their child will eat all of the healthy food, too. It is the same way with God. When we enjoy and make the most of what He gives us, He can trust us with more.
Coveting is just the opposite. If we keep looking at what someone else has, we neglect what we do have. We feel sad and angry inside, and don’t enjoy what we have anymore or take care of it. We are not content, not peaceful, and our angry feelings can cause us to be mean to ourselves and to others. We can even begin to feel a very dark feeling toward what does belong to us, called hate. Hate can cause very bad thoughts, words, and actions. All this coveting and all those other bad things separate us from knowing and feeling the love from God. The love from God is the most important thing in life. We cannot be peaceful or content without knowing and feeling the love that comes from God.
Did you know that we all were separated from that love when Adam and Eve started coveting God’s power and authority? They already had authority over the creatures of the whole planet of Earth: all the ocean animals, birds and other flying creatures, animals on the earth, and even creeping things. They were made in God’s image, but not exactly like God (Genesis 1: 27, 28). They were not God, and even though they had so much, they coveted God’s nature and God’s powers. That coveting in their hearts caused them to disobey God’s one and only law, and that caused a terrible separation in their hearts from the love that comes from God. They couldn’t even stay in God’s beautiful garden called Eden, and they couldn’t walk with God in the evenings anymore.
But God still loved them and He made a way for each of us to come back to His love. That way is Jesus, God’s only Son, born as a poor child in a stable. He was the only one able to follow all of God’s laws, because He came from God and was God. He said, “ I AM the Way, I AM the Truth, I AM the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14: 6) Because of the perfect way He lived, the special sacrifice He gave on the cross, and because He came alive again and lives forever, we can have a new heart, if we believe in Him and ask Him (I Peter 1:3, John 8: 24, John 3: 1-6) With our new heart, we can be free to choose what is good and we will be able to be full of the love from God. We will be able to be thankful and content with what we have. Without Jesus and the new heart He can put inside of us, we can never feel all of that love and contentment. We will stay coveting, angry and sad inside. God loves us just as we are, so Jesus came to help us. (John 3:14-20).
So that is why God gave us “do not covet” as one of His special ten laws. Instead of coveting, ask God to give you a new heart and to help you to enjoy and make the most of all that He has given you. When you start focusing on that, you will find that you truly have much more than you thought, and you will feel more peaceful and more contented. You will enjoy your life and be able to do more with the abilities that you have. You will have more, and become more. That is another one of the mysteries of God’s special ways.