Exodus 20:1-17


Having survived the toddler years, twice. And don’t let their cuteness distract you from this upcoming point … the following Toddler Property Laws bring back some memories. “If I like it, it’s mine. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine. If I can take from you, it’s mine. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine. It must never appear to be yours in any way, because it is always and forevermore mine!

Let’s be honest. We can all be a little kids and annoying like the seagulls in Finding Nemo, who at the sight of anything are like, “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” Deep down, within each of us, there exists a greedy desire to look at someone’s zero-turn lawnmower, their bike or boat, patio, or porch … actually, just about anything and everything that belongs to someone else … and long for them all to be mine!

In our series on the Book of Exodus, we come to one of the most famous parts … the 10 Commandments. There are two commandments that address the sin of coveting. Not one, but two! Why? What gives? Well, when God repeats something, it’s important. The 9th and 10th commandments could be seen as the most important of the Ten Commandments. Why? Because every sin, begins with coveting.

Now let’s be clear, coveting isn’t wanting things. It’s natural to want things. It’s okay to want things. There is nothing wrong with wanting things. Coveting, on the other hand, it says, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get that. I’ll break any commandment, any statute, any rule, anything that stands in my way to make it mine!” Woody Allen famously put it this way, “The heart wants what it wants.” Translated, “I want it all to be mine!

Coveting is why we worship other gods like our job, our paycheck, our social status. Coveting is why we fail to honor our parents, kill people with our words, look with lust, lie, cheat, and steal. I want it all to be mine!

How can we deal with our titanic desire to acquire? How can we become more obedient to God’s Word and will? How can we break the stranglehold of looking at things and people and always thinking, “Mine”?

The fact is … coveting is natural. Coveting is how we are wired. Coveting comes with being sinners. Being content though … that doesn’t come naturally. Being content is something that is learned. Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12 NLT). Being content conquers coveting. But how? How does that work?

First we need to realize the sequence. Usually we rationalize the sequence. “Coveting? No big deal!” But it is a big deal. We need to realize the sequence. “Then the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, she coveted it for gaining wisdom, then she took and ate it” (Genesis 3:6). See. Covet. Take. “I saw among the spoils a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I covered them, and I took them” (Joshua 7:21). See. Covet. Take. The sequence appears five more times in the Old Testament. See. Covet. Take.

So how often do we rationalize our coveting? We say, “Oh, I’m just lookin’! I’m just window shopping!” Lookin’, window shopping leads to coveting. Covering leads to taking, And what does taking lead to?

James says, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when its fully grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). Realize … don’t rationalize … realize the sequence. See. Covet. Take. Death!

When we covet our neighbor’s trophy spouse it brings death to martial joy. When we covet each other’s skills, intellect, popularity, family connections, you name it … it brings death to the inner peace. When we covet our neighbor’s car, mower, boat, looks, pick your poison … it brings death to our relationship with Jesus.

Left unchecked, coveting drives a stake into our heart and kills us. I mean, just ask Eve. Just ask Achan. Just ask James. “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death” (1:15). Being content conquers coveting. So here’s the first step of being content. Realize … don’t rationalize … realize the sequence. See. Covet. Take. Death.

Usually we generalize our salvation. We say, “Salvation? No big deal!” No … personalize your salvation. Exodus 20:2 says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Not her God; not his God; not their God; not some God; not any ole God. The LORD is YOUR God. “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). Your jealous God will do whatever it takes to save you1 Your jealous God will do whatever it takes to save you! He did for you, but not with flees, flies, and frogs.

Instead, there was a Passover lamb. Christ’s blood wasn’t splattered on the wood of the door frame of a house, but instead on the wood of a Roman instrument of death, mingled with sweat, soldier’s spit, and cheap wine. It all ended “crucified, dead, and buried.” Watch as Joseph of Arimathea places Christ into the garden Tomb. Smell the stench of death. See the confines, the darkness, the sealed stone. Feel the utter hopelessness.

And then witness the charred marks of a divine explosion of life! There is nothing dead about our Jesus! Jesus blew the rock open from the inside and rolled away the stone. Jesus lives so he can speak these words straight from his heart to yours … “I am the LORD your God, who brought out of the land of sin and death, out of the land of slavery. I, the LORD your God am a jealous God. I will do whatever it takes to save you!”

Being content conquers coveting. The first step to being content is this. Don’t rationalize the sequence. Realize where it all leads, death. The second step? Don’t generalize your salvation. Personalize it. Jesus is the Passover Lamb who saved me! Saved you!

Out of all nations you will be my treasured possession {segulah}” (Exodus 19:5). God’s desire to acquire us is infinitely greater than ours desire to be His. From the depths of His loving heart, the LORD says, “You are always and forevermore my segulah, my treasured possession.” God wants us, warts and all!

This isn’t always the case in our lives. Every once in a while, the kids will want to ask me something. Sometimes these becomes one of those proud dad moments … that is until I hear something like, “Well, I was going to ask mom, but since she’s not here, I’m asking you.” In those moments, I’m like, “Thanks kiddo. I love you too!

God always says, “You’re my first choice!” When you were baptized, God made you His first choice. His choice wasn’t obligatory, it wasn’t required, it wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, it wasn’t forced or compelled. God chose you because God loves you. God looks at you and says, “You are my prized, priceless possession! My prized segulah!

The temptation though is to trivialize this segulah. I mean really, what’s the big deal? Well … a lot! Don’t trivialize it … internalize this segulah, internalize that you are God’s prized possession. Let it go deep down into your bones, let it make up every fiber of your being! You are God’s prized, priceless possession! What else could possibly top this?

The heart of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.” How does that work? Realize the sequence … see, covet, take, death. Personalize your salvation. Internalize segulah. Where’s the power to do this? The strength? The “want to”? … God says, “I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are always and forever lovingly, passionately, eternally … mine!” Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *