After reading Exodus 20, I took a little time to unpack each law so that I could fully understand what each one required me to do. I got as far as the third one and realized that I have failed miserably in that regard. How often do I get everything done in six days so that I can keep holy the Sabbath? Never! From the time I wake up on Sunday, I’m washing laundry, folding laundry, cooking breakfast, and tidying the house a little before heading out to church. For me, and I suspect the same is true for you, it’s a catch up day, and it has been for most of my adult life. I hope to do better this week, so I have already started doing a few chores each evening when I get home in hopes of getting all the big stuff done before Sunday. I’m determined to do better this week.
After assessing myself on commandments four through eight, I was feeling pretty good until I looked at number nine — covetING. Although I’m not seeking someone else’s spouse, I used to have a little crush on Clark Kellogg — the lead college basketball analyst for CBS sports. My husband knew about it, and it seemed innocent and fun as we’d watch college basketball and I’d comment on Clark’s attire, his color commentating, and his overall Clarkness, and then it ceased to be fun when my husband shared that he, too, had a crush on Yolanda Adams — a beautiful Gospel singer with the voice of an angel and legs for days. In an instant, I realized how he had felt all those years that I gushed about Clark. I think we resolved to end those crushes that night.
Spending quality time in the Book of Exodus has given me the opportunity to reflect on the 10 Commandments and how easy it is to disregard a few of these laws or even break them if we’re not careful. As a child, I believed that I could live a good life — free from sin if I didn’t knowingly break any of the 10 commandments. As an adult, I find myself repenting daily for something that I did or failed to do — just like anyone else who is on a similar journey to know God better.
Finally, I looked at number 10, and I knew I was in trouble. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” If this were a court of law, I’d be found guilty of covetING.
Sometimes I feel as if we take special care to obey the big rocks, and then we run out of steam when it comes to little rocks. In the grand scheme of things, they’re all big rocks, but when you’re in the formative years of your journey to know God better, some of these sins seem lesser. Truth is, all sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~Romans 3:23
Just like hatING, CovetING is another of the Four INGs we should stop investing our time, money, and talents doing. We always want what someone else has, and most of the time, we’re willing to work for it, but it’s such a serious vice that we need to spend time ridding ourselves of this sinful desire. CovetING goes hand-in-hand with comparING. I call them the Killer Cs because they slowly drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit when you don’t have the right relationship with God. You never get any peace and you constantly work to keep up with the Joneses, the Smiths, or the Kelloggs. You could literally work yourself to death in an effort to have a nice home, a pricey car, and designer clothes. You’ll have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, but your kids will attend the best schools, you will buy that house in the Hamptons, and even your dog will have a detailed pedigree. When you’re gone, who will live to enjoy those things you wanted most?
We always think the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, and sometimes it is, but think about what it takes to keep that grass so green. What might get neglected in an effort to insure that the grass is always perfect? Why do you want that beautiful yard? Is it because your neighbor has it? What happens when you get it? You won’t ever sit on it or roll around on it with your well-educated, perfectly-coiffed kids. Your dog won’t even get to run around on it because pooches from his lineage are meant to be photographed and fawned over. Sadly, once you get what you’ve been covetING, the thrill is instantly gone, and you seek fulfillment elsewhere — perpetually breaking number 10.
What God has for you is for you. Why not be content with what he has given you and has in store for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Be thankful. There’s a time for everything. Read Ecclesiastes 3. It sums this up nicely. Be patient. Pray to the Lord and trust him without doubt. Receive that prayer, and while you’re at it, make sure that you take some time to forgive those whose transgressions lie buried in your heart so that you can also be forgiven (Mark 11:22-25) for breaking number 10. We always want what seems out of reach, but if we’re patient and focused on building our relationship with God, we’ll soon see that what was once out of reach was meant for someone else. Your blessing is just around the corner where it has always been, waiting for you to return from your diversion along someone else’s path. Once you get back on the path you were intended to take, you’ll find that what God had planned for you is better-suited for you than the thing you had been covetING. It’s uniquely yours — fashioned for you.