‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to my mountain. If you carefully obey me and are faithful to the terms of my promise, then out of all the nations you will be my own special possession, even though the whole world is mine. You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.'” Ex 19:4-6
This passage says that God will cherish Israel when the people are faithful and obey the laws. It was very interesting to have a class about the laws of the Old Testament this week. We learned the purpose of the laws was to help the Israelites know how to live. The purpose was also to shape them into a people who would be God’s very own.
The universe is designed to work with God at its center. When people follow God, their life is in harmony with His will and it goes well for them. God doesn’t have people follow Him because He is a megalomaniac. He wants to help them to go in the way that is best for them.
The same is true for our hearts. Our heart, our soul, is designed to work with God at its center. This is when we will be filled with joy and peace.
Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways. Heb. 3:10
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… Matt 6:19
The thing is, our hearts stray towards other things. We love God, but it is very hard for us to believe that enjoying the things of the world can be harmful.
I was reading the Ten Commandments this week, and I was puzzled by the last one: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
I thought, “Why is it such a sin to want what your neighbor has? How is this so harmful that it would be listed in main list of ten rules to follow?”
As I have studied it out, I am realizing what a deceptive gravitational pull the things of the world can have on our heart.
Here are some verses I found:
- “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
- Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb 13:5
- Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ecc 4:6
- How hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven. Matt 19:23
- ….For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:21
- …the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mark 4:19
- But among you there must not be even a hint… of greed … For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a person is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph 5:3-4
Why is coveting so harmful? Part of the answer is in Romans 13:9 — The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
COVETING IS DESTRUCTIVE TO OUR RELATIONSHIPS. It is not loving your neighbor as yourself. It is not wanting good things for others, it is wanting them for yourself. And when you want put yourself ahead of your neighbor, it will affect your relationship with them.
COVETING IS DESTRUCTIVE TO OUR INNER SELF. We begin to believe that happiness and self worth come from possessions. Our security is tied to having the right clothes, the right appearance, the right job, the right house, the right achievements. God wants so much to gather us in his arms and fill us with good things, meet our needs, sooth our fears.
This can be true for me. I just bought a new dress for the office party because I was insecure with ones I have. I still struggle with looking at other houses and wishing for them. I see the accomplishments of others and I feel my heart twist.
Here is what our attitude should be: money is just a means to an end. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9) We use it to practice hospitality. We use it to have a well groomed appearance so the gospel we speak is well received. We use it to provide for those in need. We use it to celebrate the life God has given us. We use it, in a reasonable way, to rest and recharge for more works of service.
I read that on the moon, if you shoot a bullet just right, the gravity of the moon and the lack of air resistance will cause it to continue all around the moon in an orbit. In the same way, when we get rid of the resistance of the world and have God at our center, we can continually act in a Godly manner.
Our life needs to revolve around God. Poor in spirit, our hearts must be pulled to him in desperate recognition that only He can provide what we need. May Ps 73 be our mantra:
…But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. . .
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.