The commandment I forget

When was the last time you heard anything about ‘coveting’? A sermon application, an article, a conversation…

I’ve been thinking about contentedness lately, and this seems like a related topic. (My computer defines it as ‘yearning to possess’.)

It makes up approximately 10% of the 10 Commandments:

“Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17).

Something I read today* suggests that the first sin involved coveting. I never thought of that before.

The answer…

My first instinct is to buckle up and try to ‘turn off my wanter’.

But according to the Bible, the answer is not to just ‘try harder not to want it’. We’re not able to do that. Because of human nature, hearing we’re not supposed to want something just makes us want it more (Romans 7:8). It’s like seeing a ‘No Spitting’ sign — you can feel the saliva welling up as you read it.

The answer is to be given a gift of grace that is so extravagent and soul-satisfying that your desires are remixed. And as you deepen in appreciation for that, you experience the expulsive power of a new affection.


* Rosner, Paul and the Law, page 66.

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