The Catholic Defender: You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Of the Ten Commandments, it seems that both 9 and 10 get pushed down to the point where we do not always see the relevance. But I've heard it said that we should not covet people, places, and things that takes our eyes off the ball, takes our hands off the steering wheel.
To covet means to "yearn to possess or have (something)", to "desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others: example, to covet another's property".
I can actually see that the spirit of covetous in a person's soul affects all the Commandments.
Think about it, because of selfish desires, if we allow ourselves to yield to temptation and sin, we allow ourselves to fall.
All the Commandments are like safety rails leading down a stairway that helps keep us from falling. When we choose to ignore the Commandments, it's like we simply jump over the guard rail into a whole mess of things. Then it is very difficult to get ourselves out of whatever addictions we find ourselves.
Our faith is much like a sporting engagement that we train for. We practice our faith to build strength and courage in the face of temptation.
Some thoughts to consider:
Do you guard your thoughts?
Luke 6:45 States, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
Out of the heart the mouth speaks, the brain is like a computer, garbage in garbage out. When we do not watch ourselves, bad habits develop and before you know it, we become a voice box for pollution. Ephesians 5:17 states, "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is". How important it is for us to follow His will and shaping our will to His. If we do this, then coveting others will not be a problem.
Do you fail to keep your mind out of trouble?
Romans 12:12 reminds us, "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer". We should always turn to the Lord whenever we face tough times. Our trust is in the Lord. In Germany, when out in field expeditions, Soldiers would ask me how I can handle the stress and conditions we faced. I would always have a smile and a word of encouragement that came from my core. If we are faithful in small things, he will be faithful and help us through the big things.
Do you always think about things you can’t have?
This one I see all the time especially as a Noncommissioned Officer in the United States Army. Young Soldiers get themselves in debt thinking they have to get what they can and credit cards become a huge problem.
James 4:2 states, "You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask". Wars are started sometimes over the sin of coveting and wanting what others have. As Christians, there is nothing wrong with wanting to grow and work for things you want, but always be thankful for the things you have. I am always thankful for my Wife Gigi who is God's greatest gift to me. Why would I want to squander this great gift by allowing myself to want something more? That is not happening here!
Do you ever feel jealous of others?
Galatians 6:4 states, "But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor". There is nothing wrong with having people as a role model, the Saint's in Heaven are great examples of role models, sometimes sports figures can be good role models. The objective of any role model is to be an encouragement to those who look up to them to strive to follow what is good and wholesome. As an athlete, that might be to encourage us to work hard for a goal.
Do you have unholy thoughts about others?
James 1:13-15 is very important to understand, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death". We must guard against thoughts that are lustful and unholy. The thought itself is not a sin, but the preying upon it and yielding to is has caused many to fall. King David and Sampson both sinned seriously because they allowed themselves to dwell on unholy thoughts. Both examples should give us pause as we home in on the power of God's forgiveness and mercy .
Do you want to destroy what others have, because you can’t have it?
Matthew 7:12 states, "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets". Coveting others to the point of murder and destruction brings down society and the rule of law. The American dream has always been built on the idea that all people are created equal and that everyone shares in the same opportunities to move forward growing families and prosperity.
The three divine virtues; faith, hope, and charity speaks against the sin of covetousness. Charity is a call that Christ instills as a basis of the Gospel.
Do you fail to trust in what God has in His plan for you?
The Lord Jesus gave the image of the Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina with the phrase, "Jesus, I Trust In You". Proverbs 3:5-6 states, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths".
God does have a plan and sometimes it is a journey to develop, sometimes it is a work in progress, but what is important is that we remain faithful as we continue to grow in our faith.
Do you judge others?
I find the problem with judging others a two-fold problem. I've had people use the verse Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, that you be not judged", as a means to defend their right to do what they want without consequences, almost like an excuse. We are not to judge anyone as to condemn them because of sin, but we are also responsible to know the difference between right and wrong. So you have to make judgement about sin. This one falls into the "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" message.
Are you selfish?
James 3:16 states, "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." Is it selfish for us to want more things as we grow? No, not in itself, but if we are selfish, if we are not sharing the good that we have with others, we tend to gravitate to the least line of resistance against sin. It is always best to think of others, especially family before yourself.
Are material possessions the purpose of my life?
After 26 years in the Army, you find that over time and space you acquire a lot of stuff, that is good in that what I have accumulated I am very blessed and happy with. We have the 53 inch TV, the computer in which I am writing this article, a lot of things I treasure, but all of it is a gift from God and I strive you use it as such. What we do here on earth is like packing for a journey, what are you packing, God's grace, or sinful baggage? An ancient Christian saying says, "If I were to arrested for being a Christian, can they arrest me upon evidence"? There you have my purpose!
Have I been greedy or desired to amass earthly goods without limit?
Moderation, take things in as moderation. My wife Gigi teaches me a great deal in this very point. She is the designer in our home and she can take a little of what you have and make something great with it. She is like an artist with her talent of putting things together. I am very blessed.
I hope that what I have put together here will help you consider the importance of understanding the 9th and 10th Commandments of God and that you can really see how they connect to the other 8 Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are a most excellent way to take self inventory to prepare for Confession. God is so good and He awaits for you to make a good Confession.