Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Tenth Command

The Bible, NIV-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."

From Merriam Webster's Online: "covet 1 : to wish for earnestly 2 : to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably, to feel inordinate desire for what belongs to another "

Ahh yes, the easy command. No one struggles with this one, right? WRONG. It dawned on me the other day as I was polishing my halo, this command is my hardest one. This is my sin of comparison. It is NOT a sin to compare, unless you do it as I do it. So now, because confession is good for the soul, I will give you my top examples of how I covet.

1. I covet the behavior of other children. When mine are having a bad day (or I am), it is not uncommon for me to look around for other children who are behaving nicely and using good manners. Then I wish with all my might that my kids would behave better-like that kid over there. I also covet parenting skills. Especially when I witness a particularly good parenting moment belonging to someone else.

2. I covet the behavior of other husbands. Especially the ones doing lofty "church work", or changing a diaper, soothing a baby, disciplining a child, bragging on their wife's coking, really-just fill in the blank here.

3. I covet being included. When I walk into a discussion where others are talking about doing something as a group-I lament that I was "left out". I am almost always left out of something somewhere (duh-aren't we all), so this is a bottomless pit of opportunities to covet.

4. I covet a new house. A roomier one. One that is easier to host from. One that has newer stuff in it. One that has the latest trends and styles(think kitchen here). I covet a newer mini-van. (I am such a MOM, what kind of dork admits this?) I would love to have some of the newer features that a new van would bring into our lives. With this comes coveting for a new truck for my husband because we would need something to pull the boat if we get a new van. I covet new clothes. I would love to be more stylish and garner some fashion compliments.

5. I covet a new body. Sized 8. I would like toned muscles and nice arms.

So, what is the problem with these? Don't we all feel this way sometimes? Janjanmom, you are being a little too hard on yourself. Perhaps you believe, as I was taught, that to covet means you wish you had it and the other person had nothing. So just wanting something does not indict you of coveting. And this is where I beg to differ. Re-read my list. Does admitting I covet those things make me think less of some of the most wonderful blessings in my life? YES, it does. Therein lies the sin.

Constantly comparing my children and husband to other husbands and children is comparing their worst (which I know) to the best of another whose worst I don't know. I can't think of a better way to take them for granted or sell them short. If I am consistently focused on others, my focus is wrong. I should be helping, shaping, molding, loving my own family (and all sorts of other "-ings"). I should not lift them up, examine them, compare them and declare them "LESS THAN" and yet that is what I do when I covet the behavior of other husbands and children. Satan has me right where he wants me if my family never quite measures up to another. Perhaps, as some have, I might decide to chuck it all and start over. Then he wins, because it is his desire to break apart families. If I am honest, my husband and children have just as many times of being wonderful as they do of not being wonderful. It really isn't fair to focus on their faults. Also, sometimes if I were different-they would be too. Life is not Burger King, we don't get everything "our way".

Coveting being included has my focus on selfishness. If other people go out to dinner together, were they planning on doing that as a way to leave janjanmom out? Since the entire world revolves around me-the answer is yes. All people everywhere who get together without me do so only to make me feel inferior and left out. If I believe that, then I must also thoughtfully consider every possible friend I have and how it might make them feel before I plan anything. I don't want that, and I also don't want to force my friends to consider my feelings before they do anything. (Okay, I do-but I confess that is not correct thinking.)

The new things I covet??? Are just stuff. I've got plenty of stuff. Too much stuff, in fact. My overabundance of stuff complicates my life. I don't have to look very far to find people with less and people with more. What are we doing with it all? It all belongs to God. Am I using it for HIS glory or my own?

The body I covet?? Well we all get a body at birth, don't we? If I have messed mine up, I kind of have to own that. The size 8 one that I want requires some maintenance that I have chosen not to prioritize. If I were given a size 8 body tomorrow, how long would it take me to change it into the one I have now? If I would maintain it and keep it wonderful, why don't I just convince myself I have a size 8 body now and then work to find it. If I wouldn't change anything at all, I really have no right to be unappreciative of the body I have now.

The sin of coveting is the sin of being unappreciative. God has given me so many wonderful blessings. If I am constantly looking around and comparing my blessings to other people's blessings, the how on earth could I say a sincere "Thank You" to God for them. If my marriage is not as wonderful as another, perhaps it is because I am too busy studying everyone else's more than I am studying how to make mine better. If my kids misbehave and get on my nerves, perhaps it is because I fill my life with coveting better behavior instead of nurturing it. In the same way Satan will always bring to my attention those people who have what I want-God will also remind me of my blessings and responsibilities. So coveting is just choosing to listen to Satan.


Jason said...

Ahhhhhh, janjanmom, life is too short! Don't you have more important things to worry about? You're only human. If this kind of coveting is your worst sin, then I'd say you're headed on the expressway straight to heaven. My understanding of coveting was to want something so bad that it dehabilitates you in some way and makes you act in a way that would hurt another person. Like coveting the neighbor's wife so much that you seduce her. Or wanting somebody else's diamond necklace so much that you steal it. That kind of thing.

thruchildeyes said...

Way to see the big picture...comparing the best of others (which is generally all we see) to the worst of ourselves (or our family) it just too easy. I'm glad you have it good and know it!

Sara said...

Sounds to me like you are always trying to see the positive side and recognize that everything isn't problem saturated! :)

Mama Mia said...

agreeing with Jason. Is this coveting making you act? Then it will be okay.

Ami said...

Much of what you wrote made me think.
Thank you.

But you know, you're not doing so badly... it seems that you do appreciate what you have. It's human to want more and to want things better. We were manufactured that way. Really.

Jen, Fred, Jennifer said...

I totally completey absolutely "get" what you are saying and try to say myself, but you did a fabulous job, much better than I have so far, mind if I link you on my blog?????