Do you wonder how to stop wanting what you don’t have?
Over the past several weeks, the pastors of my church have been preaching through the Ten Commandments one by one.
The Word of God is living and powerful, and even those parts that I’ve been able to quote since my childhood still have lessons for me today.
You’re probably familiar with the tenth commandment:
“You shall not covet.” (Exodus 20:17)
And then God goes on to list several items that the people aren’t supposed to covet: “your neighbor’s house…your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Basically, you shall not covet your neighbor’s anything.
I don’t know about you, but this is a commandment that always brings conviction.
I’ve struggled with covetousness in different ways during different periods of time. I’ve at times found myself coveting this person’s relationships or that one’s circumstances. Her home or his talents. This friend’s social personality and that one’s fitness level (though perhaps not her hours spent exercising). And it seems like no matter what season of life I’m in, I fight the temptation to covet people who are in other seasons.
Is there hope to be found for you and me to overcome coveting once and for all?
How to Stop Wanting What You Don’t Have
The word “covet” has a pretty negative connotation to us, likely because of this very portion of Scripture. Many of us would say that to covet means to want something we can’t have, or to want something that belongs to someone else.
But the root of the Hebrew word translated “covet” (chamad) in Exodus 20:17 really just means to want something. To desire it. Even to delight in it, or to take pleasure in it.
In his sermon on the tenth commandment, one of our pastors pointed out that this word actually has positive uses in Scripture, not just negative ones.
Well, that whetted my appetite to learn more about this word covet. And it turns out that some of those positive uses of the word chamad–those things God tells us that we should covet–actually hold a powerful secret:
We stop coveting what we don’t have by training our desires toward better things.
No, not just better things. The best things. The very best things. The things we were made for, and the only things that can bring true fulfillment and stop sinful coveting dead in its tracks.
What We Should Covet
“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight (chamad) I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Song of Solomon 2:3
This verse is a statement from a young woman about her beloved, but Song of Solomon is understood to be an allegory for Christ and the Church. So we can understand this statement to be one of adoration for Christ, and one of delight in His shadow, basking in His presence. We are to find great delight in, to covet, God’s presence.
“More to be desired (chamad) are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
“More to be desired” (coveted) are they. What is “they” referring to? Verses 7-9 tell us that it’s God’s Word. We are to desire, to covet, God’s Word.
“And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant (chamad) to the sight and good for food.” Genesis 2:9a
God placed man and woman in the garden of Eden, in a protected area of delight, and there He provided for them completely. Had they taken their fill of pleasure with God’s provision, the lure of the forbidden tree would’ve been powerless. We are to find pleasant, to covet, God’s provision.
How can you and I stop wanting want we don’t have?
By cultivating a desire for what God wants us to covet instead: His Word, His provision, and Himself.
Have you been caught up in the sin of coveting? Does this lesson ring true for you? If you can relate to the struggle and would like some prayer support in applying this new truth, leave a comment to let me know so I can lift you to our Father in prayer. I welcome your prayers for me, as well.