You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17
Does anyone else relate so well to Calvin telling his mom:
“Hey Mom, I saw a bunch of products on TV that I didn't know existed but desperately need!”
That's me. (And it can't just be me, right?) I know the 10th Commandment is You shall not covet but boy oh boy, am I a covetous person. My wanting is usually in the realm of technological gadgets. I always see something new and — though I may have never knew such a product existed previously — all of a sudden, I feel like I can't live without it. It's a sensation that seems bigger than “want” so “covet” seems to be fit the bill.
It takes every single ounce of will power to remind myself that I have a very functional iPad/iPhone when Apple rolls out the new models. I also can't seem to have enough earphones/headphones — and I'm not even audiophile. I have more than 6 coffee tumblers, yet whenever I see a cool one, I want it.
Perhaps this is why I'm not wealthy because God knew my house would be full of “As Seen on TV!” type of gadgets (read: crap) and knew that my income will be spent on trying to quench the thirst of owning the newest and latest gadgets. I mean, I spent a good chunk of time before I went to bed one evening researching wireless earphones. Why? Because I saw a commercial on TV (the JBL one) and I thought to myself — yea, having a wireless earhpones would really be useful when I exercise. But I barely — and I mean barely — exercise. Then that voice said, but maybe if you get a set of wireless earphones to run, you'll go running. And yes, that seemed like a good idea — compromise. What is wrong with me?
That's the thing with “things” — with mammon. We'll never have enough to satisfy us. Something newer, something better, something faster will always make our possessions feel outdated. I envy (and pity) those who still (contently) walk around with flip phones. I mean, c'mon! It's 2015!! And at the same time, to not be prisoners of Apple seems… freeing.
We tend to focus on what we don't have and therefore begin to covet what other's have — be it their car, home, kids, children, wife, things, .. their ox. Or donkey. (Which reminds me, you don't have to be lonely at famers only dot com. May that song be stuck with you throughout the entire day).
If only I had that… we think that our life would be fulfilled. At least that's what we tell ourselves. But it never works out that way, does it? Because as soon as we obtain it, we want something else. It never ends.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in his book, God was in this Place and I, i, Did Not Know talks about how some rabbis viewed the 10th commandment not as a commandment, but as a reward.
He writes that the first 9 commandments are externally discernible. I mean, we can actually see/witness/prove someone breaking one of the first nine. We can see if someone stole; if someone killed. We can prove if someone lied; made idols; used God's name in vain; did not keep Sabbath. But the 10th commandment is internal. I can't look at you and say, You're coveting. (Unless you're being a creep, but at that point, “coveting” might be the least of our worries…)
These Rabbis taught that if you were to faithfully follow the first 9 commandments, you won't want anyone else's life or anyone else's belongings. You won't want to covet.
They believed that we ought to read the commandments like a progression, and when we live in harmony with God; when we find our place in God's plan; when we seek God and God's kingdom first and foremost — we won't want to be anywhere else; we won't want anything else; we won't want to be any one else.
That is a reward, at least in my book.
I'm nowhere near there — but I hope to seek such a life that is in harmony with God and God's plan that “You shall not covet” is more of a reward than a commandment.