Thou Shalt Not Covet

A look at the tenth commandment: thou shalt not covet. Coveting is more than just wanting; it involves jealousy and envy. Romans 7:7 tells us that lusting is to covet. From this we can gather that coveting goes beyond a mere want, erring toward obsession. Envy is something we feel when we aren't satisfied with what we have. Coveting is what we do when we become envious. An important distinction to make is the difference between wanting and coveting, and why God would tell us not to covet. We all want things, and wanting is one way of setting goals for ourselves.

Introduction

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house,
thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Exodus 20:17 KJV
Coveting is more than just wanting; it involves jealousy and envy. Romans 7:7 tells us that lusting is to covet. From this we can gather that coveting goes beyond a mere want, erring toward obsession.
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Commandment

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.Exodus 20:17 KJV
Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.Deuteronomy 5:21 KJV
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Bible Verses

  1. Deuteronomy 7:25
  2. Job 31:24-28
  3. Psalm 62:10
  4. Luke 12:15-14
  5. Romans 7:7
  6. Romans 13:9
  7. Ephesians 5:3-5
  8. Hebrews 13:5
  9. James 4:1-2

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Discussion

Envy is something we feel when we aren't satisfied with what we have. Coveting is what we do when we become envious. An important distinction to make is the difference between wanting and coveting, and why God would tell us not to covet. We all want things, and wanting is one way of setting goals for ourselves. For instance, I want to go to Heaven; going to Heaven is my goal, from this I will order my steps toward that goal. Coveting occurs when we want something some one else has, or because someone else has it. The Bible gives us the example of coveting someone else's wife (or husband). A less obvious example is wanting to be (or be like) someone else. In middle and high school, we often wish we were as cool or as popular as a particular person, we wish we had their style or their ease at talking to the opposite sex. As we age, this form of coveting tends to lessen, however we may still suffer from coveting others' hair, legs, smile, etc. This form of coveting stems from insecurity, but also is a subconscious denial of God:
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Pslam 139:14 KJV

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God didn't make any mistakes on us! When you wish you were someone else, you imply God didn't make you well enough, that yourself isn't good enough. while I'm sure God doesn't want you to think that, this is also dangerous for yourself. If God had wanted two John Does, He would have made two John Does, but He didn't, He made you because you are the one He wanted.

So why is coveting worse than wanting? As I said in the previously, want is a way of setting goals, but coveting is tied to lust. When you merely want something, you are willing to work for it and won't lose your mind if you don't get it, however when you covet something, you become lustful of it and will do whatever it takes—right or wrong—to get what you desire. Coveting is about wanting to take something from someone else or wanting something without putting in the work; when you covet you don't worry about how other people are affected in your pursuit. It would be covetous of me to want my neighbor's house and to think I should have their house or a better house. However, wanting to work so that I can have my own place with my own style is a totally different matter—I'm not trying to take someone else's house, I don't want to show them up, and I'm willing to put in the work to get to that point. Coveting is a fruit of an entitlement mentality.
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Examples from the Bible

Haman, the antagonist in Esther, clearly covets power. He specifically covets the king's power and thus trivial actions, such as Moredcai's refusal to bow to him, trigger him into a rage. Haman attempts to kill an entire race of people because one man refused to honor a request. Haman wanted a respect he hadn't earned.

Examples from Real Life

The most common expression related to coveting is "keeping up with the Joneses." This phrase is used to refer to people who strive to be as rich, worldly, cultured, etc., as a particular group. For instance you may want a car because all of your friends have a car, not because you need a car but because you want to be like your friends. Some people are never happy with what they have, and have a need to be the first to get the latest technology, or have to upgrade their belongs when people around them "out do" them. I've even seen people who tried to 1-up each other over the number of kids they had! This mentality has become so prevalent in our society that one of the most popular TV shows, "Keeping up with the Kardashians," is all about wanting to be the Joneses!

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

In titling their show "Keeping up with the Kardashians," the Kardashian family is implicitly saying "we want you to watch us, and wish you were us." They are encouraging their followers to be envious and covet their life style. Never mind whether their actions glorify God or not, young girls idolize the Kardashian girls and mimic many of the things they do, from "Kylie Jenner lips" to contouring to fashion. They've become star struck and are molding themselves in the image of a Kardashian instead of in the image of our Savior, Jesus. We're supposed to be trying to be like Jesus, not like our neighbor. Holding ourselves to the standard of another person—trying to be as tall or as rich or as pretty—does not help our self worth. It doesn't help us to value ourselves, nor does it encourage us to stand strong in what we believe in; it encourages us to follow. On top of that, in this case their actions do not reflect the fruits of God. Kim Kardashian, possibly the most famous of the family, claims to be a Christian,[5] yet her break into stardom came from a leaked sex tape, she married a man for 72 days,[3] and is now married to Kanye West who named one of his albums Yeezus, which led to someone desecrating a Bible by replacing every instance of God in Genesis with his.[4]
Explaining that [Kanye] initially discussed his ideas with a pastor, he admitted that his now-fiance Kim Kardashian had questioned if it might be “weird” if Jesus came on stage.

Not at all, he explained: “We do plays all the time where people play Jesus. What’s awesome about Christianity is that we’re allowed to portray God.”[1]

What Mr. West has neglected in his statement is that we are not allowed to portray God. Where in the Bible does it say it's ok to pretend to be God or act like God or portray God? The 2nd commandment says not to make an image of God (or anything in Heaven). Part of the reason they killed Jesus is because they thought He was pretending to be God; when Jesus forgave sins and said He was the Son of God, He was stating that He was God, but the Pharisees did not believe Him, if He was not God then He had to be lying and therefore pretending. To pretend you are God is to bear false witness since you are not God, are not perfect, and cannot understand the mind of God, thus breaking the 9th commandment as well. We see that Mrs. Kardashian West questioned this at first but eventually was convinced to go along with it (after all she was only his fiancé at the time and they've been married for more than 72 days so it wasn't an issue). On the album in question Mr. West has a song entitled "I am God" with lyrics in which Kanye claims to be a god.[2]. This is antichrist behavior, not Christ-like behavior. They're selling the bootleg, "cool," version of Jesus, where you pose naked in front of cameras, glorify yourself, and show up to award shows drunk with a bottle on hand. Those who want to "keep up" see no problem in this and may even begin to do the same. They will refer to Mr. West as "Yeezus" and go bed at night wishing they had a butt that would break the internet.

These are not actions God would want you to aspire to! Many make mistakes, some lead horribly lives before finding Jesus, but she has not changed her behavior to reflect that of Jesus. Just like the devil can quote scripture, anyone can say they're a Christian. Many are only a Christian when its convenient but it doesn't work like that. Either you follow Jesus (which may still lend to mistakes along the way) or you do not and the actions of those involved in this show suggest they do not.
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Social Media

It's not just the show or the Kardashians, in fact Mrs. Kardashian West may be a victim of this next topic herself. Social Media is the breeding ground for a "keeping up with the Joneses" (or Kardashians) mentality. People create fictional images of themselves just to gain followers and to be envied, meanwhile others see the lifestyles of others and become jealous. To be a successful celebrity these days you must be a master at Instagram, Twitter (the place in which Mrs. Kardashian West professes her faith), Facebook, and all other social media platforms. Posting Bible quotes is not likely to "break the internet" but tweeting controversial photos, mixed with some Bible verses might. It's obvious how celebrity influence in social media can cause jealousy, but this trend can occur for normal people as well; when everyone is posting pictures of their new babies and you are unable to have one, or when everyone is out buying a house but you're still trying to pay off your student loan and stuck at your momma's house. Social media not only makes these things readily available for you to see, but prompts us to be more forthcoming with the information. Mingled with the issue of envy is the desire to be envied. We want to get as many likes as we can or as many followers. We want to be the Joneses that everyone else is trying to keep up with. Which means we're more likely to flaunt our new car, or our new engagement ring, or what have you, because we have a place that allows us to do so while simultaneously gathering data on people's reaction. We have to be careful as we proceed in this world. If you find yourself envious while using social media, it may be time to unplug.
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References

  1. "Kanye West reveals religious message behind Yeezus tour and talks Illuminati Classim and using his "white voice"". FactMag. October 2013
  2. Thomasos, Christine. "Kanye West Reveals Meaning Of 'Yeezus' Album Title". The Christian Post. June 2013
  3. Blumm, K.C. "Kim Kardashian Thought Her Career 'Was Over' After Split with Kris Humphries". People. June 2015
  4. Stone, Natalie. "'The Book of Yeezus' Bible Replaces Every Mention of God With Kanye West". Billboard. April 2015
  5. Thomasos, Christine. "Kim Kardashian Making Jesus Her Priority?". The Christian Post. April 2014

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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