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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The Tall House

The Tall House

Dear readers,

Some pastors bring me great joy. Erik Gernand is one of them.

He may be the smartest man I know (because he married my daughter), but he is also my pastor.

Today’s guest blog post is longer than usual but well worth the read. It is a parable.


A few Sundays ago, I shared a parable with our church as the message. To begin, I explained that I had been thinking a lot lately about culture, community, and the state of the church in America, which had led me to a particular passage of Scripture.

“After I read the Scripture, I’d like to share a parable with you,” I said. “Then, we’ll receive communion.

I read Galatians 6:1-5,9-10 aloud from The Message:

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Then, I began the parable.

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