You Shall Not Covet

You Shall Not Covet

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17)

Coveting is a marriage of two of the seven deadly sins—one part envy, one part greed. Greed is the inability to say, “Enough.” It is the desire that lurks in the basement always asking for more. It is an emptiness that seeks fulfillment through the next acquisition. Envy is the inability to enjoy the life we have because our eyes and thoughts are always on what another person has.

Coveting weds the two by supplying the specific object of our envious greed—the neighbor’s house, wife, slaves, or work animals. Coveting is worse than envy or greed in that it takes aim both at another named person and that which belongs to that named person.

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Pirahna Pond and Gossip Graveyard

Pirahna Pond and Gossip Graveyard

Communities are made up of people, and these people meet at conversation crossroads.

Simply put, conversation crossroads are places where people talk and tell what they know. You probably know that God cares about people, but did you know that the conversations we have matter as much to God as the people we have them with or about? The Apostle Paul zeros in on this issue in Ephesians 4:29—5:2.

I’ll condense those verses so you can more clearly see the commandments they contain:

  • No evil talk out of your mouth
  • No words that tear down
  • No words empty of grace
  • No gossip; no slander; no malice

I want you to come on a trip with me and visit two conversational crossroads. The first is Piranha Pond and the second is Gossip Graveyard.

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Takers and Givers

Takers and Givers

In the creation of the new community, Israel, God gives them a simple command. Do not steal. Respect established boundaries. Return to the owner what does not belong to you. Power is not the privilege to take what you want. Scales and balances must be fair.

Treat each other as God wished to be treated in the garden—His boundary respected, His ownership recognized, His creation tended, His gifts appreciated. Honor the property of others. Respect ownership. No stealing.

I remember well the night my family was robbed. We lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the time. We had walked to McDonald’s for ice cream with our two children.

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A Decent Proposal

A Decent Proposal

Affairs are everywhere, even reaching as high as the White House. Adultery has infiltrated our marriages, our entertainment, and our society.

As we’ve been reminded with the latest news headlines of the Ashley Madison website hack, married people are registering in droves to cheat on their spouses. The Ashley Madison website boasts about having almost 42 million anonymous users and claims it is the most popular website for married dating encounters. Really?

I realize I have the home field advantage of calling adultery a sin here on my blog, most likely being read by Christians. Place me on a talk show today, and I’d be booed and hissed for suggesting that marital faithfulness is the primary covenantal bond for the human family and should be championed as the way marriage is meant to work.

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The Command to Honor Your Father and Your Mother

The Command to Honor Your Father and Your Mother

The fifth commandment is “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

The context of the Exodus story is concerned with future generations remembering the miracle of liberation. It is written with an invitation for children to marvel at the way God creates a people from scratch. You find phrases like “when your children ask you” and “from generation to generation” scattered throughout the narrative. The fifth commandment instructs the young, yet mature, adults with aging parents to honor their mothers and fathers so that their lives in the land will be long.

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Misusing God’s Name

Misusing God’s Name

Bill trashed the name of God with casual regularity. “GD” to him was normal language. His parents swore; his aunts and uncles swore; his school buddies swore. It wasn’t that anybody set out to abuse the name of God; it was just their cultural language. It came with the territory.

In all honesty, Bill was ignorant about God’s command. He meant nothing by it—and no one had ever said a word to him about his profanity. Bill was uninformed about the seriousness of using God’s name.

Then Bill met a genuine, authentic, honest believer whose life was consistent, a new friend deeply devoted to God. Bill liked hanging around with this guy and soon began to experience God’s accepting love through him. He was under conviction because the very God he cursed actually cared about him. But Bill’s resistance ran deep, and he responded to God’s gentle prodding by pushing back. He intentionally started offending his new Christian friend, notching up the profanity, looking for every opportunity to embarrass him.

But something began to happen to Bill. Each time he cursed the name of God, he became aware of the presence of the God he cursed. He realized that he was actually addressing God, provoking a response of presence. And Bill was softened by the exchange.

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Holy Terror and Tender Love

Holy Terror and Tender Love

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6)

For some reason, after reading this commandment, the words that linger with us are “but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments” (v. 6). These words lift an inch off the page and beg our attention. All the other words, words like “jealous God, punishing children . . . to the third and fourth generation,” are barely remembered once we finish reading.

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