Friday, July 22, 2011
~ "Dreams and schemes..."
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)
Here we are at the last (I'm sure some of you are relieved to know that you have survived most of the ten). This last commandment tells us that we shouldn't want what does not belong to us with an overwhelming desire. It is perfectly natural to admire something that someone else has, but when the desire turns to an obsession or the devising of crafty plans to attain it, imagining the worst scenarios in which we could claim it as our own, then we've crossed the line.
Jealousy plays a big role here, as does envy. Although "covet" is not a word we use in daily conversation (and many of us may have been spared years of needless horror if that word had been explained to us as children), it is nonetheless the word God has chosen to remind us that wishing for something that someone else has, overwhelming desires to possess what is not ours to possess and wishing for what we cannot have is not something He wants us taking up our time with. Dreams (setting goals and achieving them) are not coveting; however, schemes are! Taking unfair advantage of situations, using wealth or power to achieve something that rightly belongs to someone else, deliberately offering less for something to someone when it's worth is greater (bargaining out of greed), taking unfair advantage over someone who is stuck between a rock and a hard place, not honoring a contract (verbal or written) because of a loophole - yes, most of that is legal, but all of that is sinful!
This commandment is about respecting what is not ours; what is someone else's - be it their spouse or house, toys or joys! It does not cover "aspiring" - because that, my friends is what separates the desire from the sin. If you see something beautiful, there is nothing wrong with wanting something that exhibits the same beauty. If you see a beautiful woman or handsome man, it's not wrong to admire their physical attributes and use that as a model for what you would like to be or have. The sin comes in wanting THAT particular person or item. The phase that will generally run through your mind is "how can I get that" or "maybe when the spouse is dead".
These "appetites" of "corrupt nature" are all lust. We know that lusting after anything is a sin, therefore we need to re-learn and reprogram our hearts to differentiate between the fine lines of this commandment and the will of God. When we pray for what we want, as opposed to what God wants for us, are we, in fact, violating His final law? When we ask for something that is not ours (regardless of whether it is someone else's), are we praying out of need or want? Only you and God know what is in your heart, what the longing of your soul is crying out for. Make sure that your prayer is one of need, not greed!