The last of the ten commandments seems a bit out of place, doesn’t it? “Do not covet.” While the heinousness of the other commandments is relatively obvious to us, the tenth commandment stands out, in our own minds, as relatively benign. How serious can it be?
But when you probe deeper into this commandment, something very different emerges. It is much more serious than we think. For one, aspects of coveting are mentioning in a number of key places in the Bible. It is the “love of money,” a form of coveting, that is the “root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). And when Paul is looking for a good example of how sin traps and tricks us, he chooses the sin of coveting (Romans 7:7).
And, most foundationally, the very first sin, that of Eve in the garden, appears to be that of coveting. When she looked at the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we are told that she “desired” it, and it was a “delight to the eyes.”
It is for these reasons, that the Puritan author Thomas Watson referred to coveting as a “mother sin.” The problem with coveting is not just coveting itself, but the manner in which it gives birth to other sins. It leads us to hate our neighbor, instead of love him. To despise him, instead of wishing him good. It leads us to steal and take. It robs us of our joy and peace. And ultimately, it leads us to despise God, whom we think has deprived us of what we really desire.
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