Tenth: Covetousness


To covet

The Tenth Commandment forbids us to covet: “You shall not covet”.  To covet means to want something that belongs to someone else.  We can see how wrong that is when we remember that it is covetousness which is the beginning of every theft.  For example, a man may steal some vegetables from someone else’s allotment.  But before he took them, he had looked at them with covetous eyes and wished that they were his.  So just as a person who hates someone is a murderer at heart, so a person who covets is a thief at heart.

Envy and jealousy

There are two other sins which are often connected with the sin of covetousness.  They are envy and jealousy.  Envy means grudging someone his or her good fortune.  For example, if a girl in your street had won a bicycle in a competition and you found yourself wishing that she hadn’t, that would be envy.  But if you found yourself wishing that you had it instead of her, that would be jealousy.  Envious people are sorry to hear of someone else’s good fortune, jealous people wish that good fortune were theirs.  And remember, love of money always drives out love of God from a person’s soul.  The two cannot exist together.  As Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and wealth” (NRSV, Luke 16:13).

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