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I remember my mother had a charm bracelet based on the ten commandments. The bracelet had 10 small, rectangular charms. Colored paint decorated one side of each gold charm with a few words representing a commandment. I used to look at it while sitting in church as a youngster. The one I struggled to understand was “Thou shall not covet.” What did that mean? No one used the word covet.
The longer form of the commandment is in Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (NIV)
The word covet refers to desiring something that doesn’t belong to you, such as another’s wife, house or property. This is not the same as wanting something like another has, for example, the same model of car. To covet means you want the neighbor’s car. Some synonyms for covet are to long for, to crave, to wish for things your neighbor owns. Why is this wrong? Because people act on their longings. If you crave something another owns, you’ll likely violate another commandment, such as stealing the property. Covetousness is linked to murder in James 4:2, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.” (NIV)
So, admire what others have, but don’t crave what rightfully belongs to them.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.