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 chapter 20, verse 17.
Desire is a tough thing to live with. If you truly want something, it can become an obsession, maybe even an addiction, especially if it is substance or a behavior that acts like a drug. Desire can rip you apart if you let it. You know this.
Now, I can’t speak for you, but I know I don’t like people dumping a bunch of negatives on me. Perhaps that’s one reason why we’ve lost touch with the Ten Commandments because we perceive them to be a bunch of ‘shall not’s’ in a life that is hard enough without dog-piling a bunch of additional negatives on us, even when we may need to hear them.
So let’s not do that. We know that coveting is a sin and that it’s wrong. What’s the opposite behavior? Instead of desiring for ourselves, how about we change our hearts and focus on giving, on sharing, on using our time and talents in service to others so that they may get what they want out of life?
I’m not calling on you to become some obsessive giver, to substitute one compulsion with another. No, I’m calling on the both of us to change the way we do things. It starts with confession and prayer, taking to God the areas where we have made mistakes and where we recognize we need His help. In that prayer, we should also remember to be thankful for all the things, large and small, that swirl around our mistakes.
Then comes the hard part: actually walking the walk. Instead of desiring what we can’t have, how about we find out what others want or need, then work to answer that want or need? If there’s something we want, some self-examination will usually tell why we want it. It isn’t difficult, then, to turn the desire to a prayer of service for the someone or something else around our desire. That prayer is the start of the walk. That first step can lead to others that serve God instead of serving ourselves. How bad do you want to take that step?
In this way, we REALLY get a clear picture of what those Ten Commandments are for: to bring us closer to Jesus. He didn’t give them to us to slam us: He gave them to us in love. What better way to share His love than to put His commandments into practice and use them to live in ways that would please Him?
Lord, search my heart and help me identify things and people I desire. Help me re-focus my desires only on You, and show me how I can serve You by serving others.
Read Exodus chapter 3, Moses meets God.