Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet…
The purpose of this missive ‘covet’ is three fold.
- It is a love letter to my son and daughter to read when they are ready, (I have these archived), so they will learn from my mistakes by not reinventing the wheel.
- This is my prayer journal. Just jotting down things I have learned, victories I have seen, as well as disappointments on the mission field. It’s not doctrine nor dogma, just observations. Oh, also funny stuff, we must not forget funny.
- To help the reader to see, and to remind me, that a lot of times we tend to take a verse and run with it, and tend to twist the rest of the Bible to be inline with our preconceived misperception. A common and natural error. It happens to us all. That’s why I am startled when one group of believers attack another group of believers, we all have blown it doctrinally one way or another. It’s all about Jesus.
Now, back to my missive titled ‘covet’.
The Bible clearly says ´Don´t Covet´. Actually 5 of the 10 commandments are about coveting, (earnestly desiring another person’s stuff). So coveting is a sin right? Yes, in this sense it is. But I know many well intentioned people who take this as permission to be mean and abrasive to other people that covet, or who break any other sins (real or perceived). God said don´t, (directly, or indirectly) so, it’s sin and we must squash it, right? The sin in ourselves, ABSOLUTELY! In others? Usually not!
The Bible is written to us personally. It´s a two edged sword, cutting the user as well as the person the
user is using the Bible against. Mainly the Bible is written to the reader. For example many husbands quote the verse to their wives, wives, submit to your husbands Eph 5:22 But that wasn’t written to the husband, it was written to the wives, so the husbands should not quote it. Jesus said it best.
Matthew 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (I personally like the Message´s version, ‘don´t worry about the sneer of your brothers face while you have a sneer on your own face’)
Bottomline, we should use the Bible first and foremost to correct ourselves. If you take care of your walk with the Lord, He will take care of the rest.
I´ve been working on my sneer (or beam) forever, without an end in sight. So I guess it’ll be a long time before I can go on ‘sin patrol’ to eliminate the sin in others. All I can do is love them and shine the light of Jesus on them, in which there is no darkness at all.
Let’s start with the sin of coveting. We all have it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Maybe we are coveting the way someone else keeps his body in shape. The job your pastor has. (After all, he only works an hour a week, right?) The car, home or family of a fellow believer. That´s coveting. Don’t covet, it´s sin. 5 of the ten commandments of the ‘thou shall nots’ have their roots in covetousness. However, before we correct someone else´s coveting, we have to stop coveting. (Jesus’ words not mine). I believe that if everyone took this advice, we would stop trying to fix the sin of everyone else’s lives, and live more Godly lives ourselves in the process. A win for the poor soul who has had to listen to us nag at them for decades, and a win for our own spiritual lives.
We should all seek to live a Godly life. We should covet that. A Godly life is being merciless with the sin in our own lives, and merciful with the sins in the lives of others. Then our lives will be 100% more fun and beneficial to the Kingdom of God than a typical miserable ‘Sin Exterminator’s’ existence. (They have it backwards almost always, they try to ‘’exterminate sin in other people, but they ‘forget’ to exterminate the glaring sins in their own lives).
Do you know that being argumentative, moody, contentious, fake, selfish, pompous, surly, self-righteous, prideful, bigotted, snide, sarcastic and gossipy is sin? That wipes out about 90% of the ‘saints’ in one sentence. Good thing for God’s Mercy and Grace! We are saved by grace.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith.
A minister that spends all his time crushing the sin in others, rarely has time to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ, by which men get saved. Sure, a hearer may stop coveting, or some other sin for a day, for example, (which may be better than the minister himself can do), but are they getting saved? Stopping a sin or quitting a bad habit is not salvation.
We are brought to salvation by realizing that we can not stop sinning by ourselves, that we need a Saviour. Bottom line is if we can’t stop sinning ourselves, how are we going to teach someone else to stop sinning? We can’t! Only by Jesus’ beautiful, sweet Grace can do this in us and in them.
So ‘thou shalt not covet’ means we can not ever covet something, right? Wrong! Don’t make it a theme song for your life. We can and should covet one thing!
1 Cor 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
I have never met anyone that is spiritually perfect. But God tells us to strive for excellence. To covet it. Those of us that do, are in great company. The biggest sign of this is having a teachable spirit, ready to change and improve.
We really need to guard our words, our sneers, and our witness when we are out and about in the world. Focus on God, and His best gifts, which is a more excellent way. Even in church, among the brethren, be careful of what message you are trying to put out. Be careful of the messages that come to your ears and before your eyes as well.
What do you think will draw more people to the loving embrace of Jesus? Going on rampage about the evils of facebook, texting and smartphones or going on about how Jesus loves us? Exposing every ministry as evil that isn’t like ours, or by showing them that we are Christians by our love for one another?
In the Book of Revelation it says believers are going to get their heads cut off for their faith. There will be no doctrinal bickering. The deciding factor will be whether they love Jesus or not. The rapture will be the same. Those who are His bride will be raptured. Again, there won’t be a lot of Bible wars. Either you are or you aren’t. The Bible says to covet God, His love, the Holy Spirit kind of Agape love, the best gift, the more excellent way.
Covet means to obsess over something. To think about it when you wake up in the morning. When you are at work. When you are sleeping. Coveting takes over your whole being. You’ll do anything for it. When you are coveting more of Jesus, more of God’s Holy Spirit, grace, mercy, gentleness, kindness, love, patience etc. the last thing you are doing is thinking about how to demoralize someone else.
I am glad I am on the mission field. I am glad I see how the rest of the world lives. God looks at the heart. A lot of people who I once thought were heretics are living as faithful to the Truth and to the Lord as they know how. I have the advantage of owning my own Bible, and of being able to read it. Many don’t. I have the advantage of many great teachers through the internet. Many don’t even have electricity. Many just have the Holy Spirit and a few Bible verses they have memorized. I knew an old man in Cuba (Juan) who had the book of John memorized. Precious. Never could read because He was blind. Went to a church that my denomination totally disapproved of. Couldn’t read, because he was blind, and poor. Old Juan was filled with God’s Word and the Holy Ghost. So much so, that I covet to this day what Juan had. Many of the ‘least of these’ are way ahead of me by leaps and bounds because they abound in spiritual things, which are spiritual. Spiritual things are not learned in seminaries. Not googled or found on fb. Not read in books. But by God’s Holy Spirit.
We are told to covet God´s Holy Spirit (and along with It the best gifts of His Spirit). To desire it, to yearn for it day and night. To think about it constantly. That’s what I covet. Well, right now I covet to covet that. I covet this covetousness in other pastors and men of God who already have it. I covet the desire to have it. I covet the self denying, total consuming need to have these best gifts. When I am coveting that, I can only love others along the way. I can clearly see that I have to get the beam out of my own eye before I get the splinter out of theirs. The best gifts give you that discernment. The Holy Spirit can help you with that, and give you that priority, IF you covet it strongly enough.
So, next time someone comes up to you with that fanatical, scary look in their eye and tell you not to covet, kindly ask them to read 1 Corinthians 12:31
Did you covet God´s Best Gifts today? If not, start now, and never give up.
Psalm 88:1O Lord, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before You.