You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Covet is an old-fashioned, dressed-up word for the phrase “it is not yours”. To covet is to yearn or desire for the possession of someone else’s. To covet is to look at your portion and compare it to your friend’s portion, then instantly crave theirs. To covet is to sin and, like other sins, be separated from biblical truth and Christlike behavior. Ultimately, to covet is to widen the gap of our understanding of God’s heart and our fellowship with him.
I chose this topic not from a place of mastery, but from a novice standpoint of many failed attempts. I struggle tremendously in this area way too often. I feel that part of the reason is due to social media and its direct, glamorized effect on our eyes. Seeing hundreds of people’s lives in an instant gives us no time to praise them but extended time to pity ourselves.
Where I once was pleased with my life I am now discontent, one hand pointing the finger at God and the other hand grasping for my neighbor’s treasure.
When I click the Facebook app on my phone, I instantly enter into the web of comparison. Like a spider, I crawl through hundreds of people’s lives: their disappointments, achievements, milestones, marriages, even deaths. The web becomes more massive as I switch apps to Instagram where I travel across the world vicariously through my friends’ stories. In one second, I am in New York for a bridal shower; two seconds later I am in South Africa at a festival. I feel like the most adventurous little spider that had its day’s journey.
Moments pass, maybe thirty-minutes to be exact, and I rise my glance to a notification at the top of my screen. The spider scales fall and reality picks me up again. I begin to process that I am at home, not in New York. I have a dog, not a boyfriend. I am a student, not a successful businesswoman. Feelings of loneliness and thoughts of insecurity poison my spirit as I unknowingly swallow the subtle pill of coveting. Where I once was pleased with my life I am now discontent, one hand pointing the finger at God and the other hand grasping for my neighbor’s treasure.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord.
Even when another has what our hearts desire, we must not fall into the pit of envy. I have prayed many times for God to give me certain things, as the bible instructs us to present our requests to God (Phil. 4:6). And many times I am not the recipient of my prayer. Instead, my friends seem to receive that and more. Though my flesh cries out in resentment towards God, my Spirit is comforted knowing that God heard me. I mean, he had to.
It is no coincident that all of your friends are married, when you have desired marriage since age four. It is not by accident that everyone seems more steadfast in their faith than you, when you yearn for consistency in your walk. Ladies, it is not a surprise that your closest friend perfectly embodies your desired figure. Our Father hears us and sees us and speaks to us in each prolonged answer to our prayers. I deeply believe that God wants to remind us that He is abundant. In those times, I hear his soft whisper saying, “Alexis, sweetheart, I have enough for you. I AM enough for you.” His answer being “not right now” should bring us deep joy and gladness, because there is something greater at work.
Since Our Father is the God of the universe with the whole world in his hands, we no longer have to fret that there is not enough. When our brothers and sisters do well, we should celebrate them. When they fail, we should not celebrate their shortcomings. I believe that is why Paul precisely wrote Philippians 2:3-4:
Do nothing from self ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others.
The antidote to greed is generosity. Once we allow God’s goodness to penetrate our hearts and minds, we will realize that God has indeed blessed our portion. We may not have a marriage or vacation, but we have friends and a job. We may not have graduated yet, but we still have an education. Every cloud has a silver lining, although, most of our situations do not actually classify as clouds especially when placed next to others’ dire circumstances.
As I am deeply convicted of ways that I covet my neighbor, I pray that we all have a game plan with mental sermons on how to fight this ghastly sin. As Proverbs reads, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (14:30). There is no peace living from a place of scarcity which is why Jesus came, died and rose that we may have life abundantly.
Lord, I am guilty of coveting my neighbor.
I confess that I have not rested in the truth that you ARE enough for me.
Please forgive me.
Lord, I ask that you will equip me with the strength to look to my neighbor’s interest rather than my own. Help me to see that you are a generous God who has more to give, thus allow me to be content in my portion.
Above all things, help me to flee from sin and draw near to you.
In Jesus’ precious name,