Why Do We Covet and Envy Our Neighbours?

How easy is it to break the 10th Commandment?

Kimberley Payne
Jul 8 · 4 min read
Photo by Ian Wagg via unsplash

My husband and I moved to a beautiful home in the country. We are surrounded by lakes and gorgeous landscapes, captured in artwork such as “The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson and other paintings by the Group of Seven.

We have a 1968 Sidewinder boat that my husband restored that we ride in to explore the Kawarthas’ Tri-Lakes system with hundreds of kilometers of fun.

In the summertime, we load the grandchildren in the boat and enjoy the waterways. We are truly blessed.

So why is it that I find myself wishing I owned one of the many gorgeous homes along the shoreline?

As we ride, I look at the cottages and boat houses and wonder what it would be like to live right on the water. Some of the boathouses are larger than our home! I find myself daydreaming about moving into one of these luxurious places and spending my hours relaxing on the dock.

Why do I covet my neighbour’s home? Especially when I am already so blessed with what God has provided me.

Exodus 20:17 “You must not covet” is the tenth commandment given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Jesus said the same thing in Luke 12:15, “Guard against every kind of greed.”

In my regular Bible reading, I came across a great explanation in the Life Application Study Bible.

The Life Application Study Bible has this note under Exodus 20:17:

“To covet is to wish to have the possessions of others. It goes beyond simply admiring someone else’s possession or thinking, “I’d like to have one of those.”

Coveting includes envy — resenting the fact that others have what you don’t.

God knows, however, that possessions never make anyone happy for long. Since only God can supply all our needs, true contentment is found only in him.

When you begin to covet, try to determine if a more basic need is leading you to envy.

For example, you may covet someone’s success, not because you want to take it away from him, but because you would like to feel as appreciated by others as he is. If this is the case, pray that God will help you deal with your resentment and meet your basic needs.”

This has led me to ask myself what is the basic need that leads me to covet a home on the water.

I love my home, am blessed with living with my grandchildren, have toys like the boat to play with, so what need am I missing?

Upon more reflection, I believe my desire to have one of those homes is not out of a dissatisfaction with what I currently have, but rather out of the feelings I have when I am on the water.

I have wonderful memories of boating on Mazinaw Lake at Bon Echo Park with my family and friends. Thinking of these times makes me smile as I remember the joy of spending time with my family and enjoying the great outdoors.

I remember spending time at a cottage, again with family and friends, along the waters of Lake Ontario. I specifically remember the kids all sleeping together in one room, and having the freedom to eat junk food and stay up late.

I remember camping every summer on Rice Lake in our little red trailer with my brothers and parents. It was close enough for my dad to drive to work every day but spend the weeknights and weekends with us.

All my memories of being on the water are joyful.

I believe that my desire to have a home on the water is simply a desire to experience these joyful feelings every day. They represent happy times. Times of contentment. Times of spending one-on-one time with family.

So now I can ask God to help me to deal with my feelings of discontent in my everyday life. I can ask Him to help me to be more appreciative of what I do have, to recognize the joy in my everyday life. I can ask God to meet this need for inner peace and joy from the inside and not from experiences happening on the outside.

I can pray to God that I recognize that true contentment is found only in Him.

In this, then, I can ask forgiveness for breaking the 10th commandment and praise Him who is infinitely more precious than any home on the water.


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Kimberley Payne

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Author. Jesus Lover. Oma. Exercise & healthy eating are to the body what prayer & Bible study are to the spirit. https://www.kimberleypayne.com/free-programs


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