"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 is your neighbor's.” - Exodus 20:17This commandment from Exodus is the final commandment of what are commonly known as the 10 Commandments. It is a familiar commandment. Most people in Christian circles know that to covet is wrong. But what does it really mean to covet something? And why do we hear so much about not coveting someone's wife, but so little about coveting someone's house or donkey?
According to Mr. Webster, to covet means to earnestly wish for, or inordinately desire, something that belongs to someone else. More simply, we covet when the yearning for someone else's stuff replaces contentment and joy with what is already ours. "I want yours more than mine" is the language of coveting. And Christians do it all the time.
Is this a safe place to confess? Of course not, there are millions of people reading this blog (actually the number is much closer to 13 or so). But I'll confess anyway. My struggle with coveting often revolves around desiring to have the same blessings from God that he has chosen to give prominent pastors around the country. Here's a sampling of what I covet...
- the leadership and evangelism skills of Bill Hybels
- the passionate preaching style of Steven Furtick
- the pursuit of holiness and joy in God of John Piper
- the insightful and sincere blog content of Ben Arment
- the quotable and insightful writing tone of Mark Batterson
- the depth and relevance in the teaching of Matt Chandler
- the 'outside-the-box' style in thinking and teaching of Rob Bell
- the creative and poetic tongue of Ed Young Jr.
- the humor and conviction of Mark Driscoll
- the speaking and writing skill of John Ortberg
- the cultural and futuristic thinking of Erwin McManus
- the confrontational boldness of Perry Noble and Gary Lamb
And it goes on and on. I covet the hand of God on these men's life when I inordinately wish that my life was theirs. I am blessing jealous. It is wrong. It is sinful.
The truth is that God places his hand in different measures at different times in different ways and it is not my job to lead major global initiatives like Rick Warren. It is my job to be the best Brenton Balvin I can be, and to bring God glory with the blessings he has given specifically to me.
The blessings of another person are their responsibility. I should not seek the blessing reserved for another, but instead I should develop and seek God in my life. Burning for what is not ours is sin. Whether that be another man's wife, his home, his ministry, his skill set, or his God-ordained blessing. Too often I forget what it really boils down to.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33