"Thou shalt not covet…" - Exodus 20:17
I don't know about you, but I find the commandment that forbids covetousness to be the most challenging commandment of all. For the most part, I am more successful at restraining myself from bowing to other gods, misusing God's name, keeping the Sabbath, honoring my parents, and not committing murder or adultery or robbery or perjury. But covetousness is not just a discipline of behavior; it's a discipline of attitude and intention.
How many times have I looked, with a sense of longing (covetousness?) at another person's degree of preparedness and orderliness (some people just seem to live with no hiccups or upsets)? How many times have I wished I had another person's quick-witted aptitude for always having the right come-back, no matter what verbal assaults come their way. How many times have I wished I had the prowess of LeBron James on the basketball court? And yes, how many times have I looked at another person's car and wished I was driving it?
But maybe the commandment against covetousness is not so much a demanding restriction as it is broad invitation. When I think about it, the less time I spend longing for the gifts of others, the more time I have available to develop my own gifts. The prohibition against covetousness actually frees me to be more creative in honing my own abilities and more focused on developing my own potential.
One of the greatest gifts we bring to others is our authenticity. There is liberating power when we live authentically in the flow of who we truly are and in the things we've truly earned and in the gifts we truly possess.
When we become experts of our own experiences and master developers of our own potential, we might be surprised at how little there really is to covet.
Dear God, Help me today to transform covetousness into creative energy, so that I can find real fulfillment in being all that you have created me to be. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.