From Mount Sinai, God gave the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder, #7 Do not commit adultery, #8 Do not steal, #9 Do not be a false witness. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.
#10 Do not COVET
Because the Israelites lived in poverty at the bottom of Egyptian society as slaves, their desire for better things was huge. However, they were not to have a jealous desire (resentment against a person instead of happiness for them) for someone else’s home, spouse, servants/employees (indicating significant wealth), working animals (which were implements of making and maintaining wealth), or for anything else belonging to another. Coveting (Heb. khaw-mad, ‘to take delight in’) someone else’s resources revealed pride, jealousy, idolatry, lust, and thanklessness to God. The last command was a ‘catch-all’ for where most violations of the previous nine commandments (not honoring the true God, making a version of God to control, profaning God’s name, working without resting to worship, dishonoring parents, murdering, adultery, stealing, lying for gain) come from—a selfish, undisciplined heart.
Lastly, God gave a comprehensive mandate about internal motivations—unparalleled in ancient laws. Only God as the sovereign ruler can make demands about an unacceptable heart disposition. Coveting is a lack of contentedness not a lack of possessions (Phil 4:12, 13; Heb. 13:5). God had promised to provide for His people by rescuing them, bringing them to a good land, and blessing them. But God’s blessings were never meant to be an excuse for greed or lust for more (Luke 12:15). Loving God and others was ultimately a matter of the heart as Jesus reiterated (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 7:21-23). Humility and thankfulness will kill covetousness. Humility in that believers deserve nothing, but are graciously given all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Thankfulness in that believers shouldn’t grumble about what they don’t have but be thankful for what they do (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18)!