Exodus 20:17=A Fence For the Heart
Bible Background: Commandments #9 & #10 prohibit coveting. To covet is to want something badly, which is not rightfully ours. Part of the job of loving our neighbor has to do with respecting their relationships and property. In the alternate way of numbering the commandments, these two are counted as the 10th C (and then #2 becomes “You shall not make for yourself an idol”.)
Digging Deeper: 1. Think of these commandments as a “fence for the heart.” Jesus noted that “out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19). God is concerned not just with what we do with our actions, but with where our thoughts and motivations are directed.
2. In the Bible, the ‘poster child’ for the problem of coveting is King David. One who is chosen by God, favored by God, King of Israel (and married with children), sees the lovely Bathsheba, wants her, at no time seems to consider the problem with his desires, and heads down a very sorry path. That path leads to cover-up, and to the death of multiple innocent persons. What things made David vulnerable to this unhealthy desire? What might have helped him resist?
3. This is a good time to remember the Bible verse which “could save your life!” (as Pastor reminds youth and adults.) Though it is taken out of context it is a good reinforcement to the commandments: God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your strength; but with the testing, will also provide the way out, so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13).
4. The alternative to a life of coveting, is a life of contentment. St. Paul wrote: for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. (Phil 4:11b-12). Note that this is not telling a poor or oppressed person to be content with their situation! Rather, it is Paul, looking back and realizing that God has always found a way to provide for him. Paul is grateful for that!
5. See 1 Timothy 6:6 and Hebrews 13:5 for more good insights on contentment. A large part of being content with who we are and what we have is simply to know that God is good; that God provides; and that our hearts find rest and satisfaction in God, and not in things.
Next week we’ll start a 4-week exploration of the 1st letter of John.