You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. [Exodus 20:17 (NLT)]
COVET: to inordinately desire unjust gain or another’s property, see also DESIRE [Life Application Study Bible (NLT)]
COVET: to feel blameworthy desire (for that which is another’s). [The American Heritage Dictionary]
I shop, therefore I am! [Seen on a T-shirt]
“Our business is about creating desire,” said Hermes CEO Alex Dumas in a Forbes magazine article. Isn’t desire what coveting is all about? From the number of catalogues and emails I receive daily, it’s not just luxury brands like Hermes with their $94,000 crocodile leather T-shirts or $1,275 beach towels that are in the business of creating desire for what we don’t have! Recently, I received an email advertising “the season’s most coveted looks.” It suggested that I make the “modern white shirt” my “top priority” and that the faux leopard-skin shoes and purse should become my “latest obsessions.”
Coveting is desire, a strong desire, either for something we don’t have or something of which we think we don’t have enough. The ad’s use of the word “covet” troubled me. Now, I like nice clothes and frequently shop at the store that sent the ad, but the “modern white shirt” looked pretty much like all of the other white shirts in my closet and even I admit that I already have way too many purses and shoes, none of which are worthy of an obsession. Whatever we covet becomes our objective and I’m pretty sure a new blouse, pumps and handbag should not take precedence over things like God, family, friends or paying my bills. Of course, I’d love to look like the model in the ad—but I’d have to be forty years younger and six-inches taller to start with and that’s not going to happen.
Coveting isn’t just desire for what we don’t have, like the latest fashion trend; it’s a desire for what we can’t have, like a fashion model’s youth and appearance. When we covet, we grow discontented and discontent usually leads to envy, jealously, resentment and bitterness. By coveting the wrong things—beauty, possessions, life-style, wealth, or fame—our goals get distorted. We may even be willing to sacrifice things of value—home, marriage, family, financial security, health, ethics, or faith—to attain what, in the end, has little value in this world and absolutely none in the next.
Recently, while in the doctor’s waiting room, I overheard a well-dressed couple cancel an appointment because of their vacation plans to an exotic destination. “I wish I had your life!” said the receptionist enviously. “Would you like our bills?” the husband asked in return. Let’s remember that desire always comes with a price.