Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house,
thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,
nor his manservant, nor his maidservant,
nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that
is thy neighbour's. Exodus 20:17
"Thou shalt not covet......" The language of the Bible may be a little difficult, I grant you. Many people say they cannot understand the Bible, so therefore it must not be relevant to their lives today. After all it was written so many years ago, how could it have any meaning to us today? But the fact is, every word of the Bible is God-breathed, and is just as relevant to us today as it was when it was first written.
Take today's key verse, for instance. Do you ever covet something? In other words, are you ever jealous of what someone else has? That's what that somewhat archaic word “covet” means: you want what somebody else has -and you want it badly. Do you ever look at what someone has, or has done, or does, and wish you were that lucky, that fortunate, or even that blessed?
Maybe that woman has the dreamy job you'd love to have, instead of the underpaid and unappreciated drudgery of your own job. Maybe your brother has a big, beautiful house, a nice new truck, and a big boat, while you struggle to get by with a ten year old car and a house constantly needing repair. Maybe your friend seems to have the perfect family: loving husband who helps with the kids and the housework, children who are smart, well behaved, and polite, and she has a perfect figure and has the time and money to do yoga three times a week and get her nails done every week. You wish your husband would be more like hers, and your children would be such perfect examples, and that just once you could be lucky enough to live like that.
Jealousy, no matter how well-hidden it is, makes you even more dissatisfied with your life. It makes you eventually not just covet, but eventually resent what you see as their good fortune, and your bad luck. You think you work as hard as they do, so you deserve more than what you've got. It's hard to be thankful for what you have when you constantly want more.
But do you really understand that your jealousy is actually a rebellion against God? What you are doing is coveting something God gave someone else, as if what He has given you is not enough. Why do they have this and you don't? Why are they so blessed and you aren't? That's what it boils down to: you are questioning God's goodness and His provision for you; asking “Why is God so good to them and not to me?”
Yes, you are questioning God's goodness and His providence. When you covet, you are assuming that you deserve something more than what you've been given. Jealousy keeps you from thanking God for what you already have. And here's the thing: If you aren't thankful for what you already have, why should God give you anything more?
The Bible tells us every good and perfect gift is from God, (James 1:17) but we have to realize - God doesn't owe us anything! Yes, God wants to bless His children, but He is not OBLIGATED to bless us with all that we want or ask for. He knows exactly what we need, and gives us exactly what He wants us to have. And it's up to each one of us to trust His wisdom, and His provision for us. It's up to us to be thankful for what we have already been given, instead of wanting more.
If you find yourself being covetous or jealous, the best thing you can do is nip that negative emotion in the bud. Instead, begin deliberately thanking God and praising Him for all that you have. You'll find you will be much more satisfied, more content, and less stressed when you thank God and trust in His provision for you. And who knows how much more God is waiting to bless you once you change from an attitude of jealousy and covetousness to one of true thankfulness and praise!