“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet 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.”
It all seems pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? Don’t ‘covet’ stuff that you don’t have. But do we really know what coveting even is? Well, its pretty much looking at other people’s stuff: Other people’s possessions, friends, skills, money, lifestyles, jobs, family, past etc and wishing it was yours! But that’s only the half of it. Coveting takes that original want or desire and gears it up a notch. It turns the bend and speeds down many a hill by going from a simple observation of someone else’s ‘whatever’ to quite monstrously hatching an often subconscious plan to get that ‘whatever’ for them self. Whether by stealing it, inheriting by elimination, outdoing – with regards to gaining the sense of accomplishment, pride or social standing associated with a particular something or any other un-kind measure.
Take for example wishing you had friends like somebody else – so badly – that you compromise your values and self worth to be accepted, or you spread rumors and gossip to displace the most popular person in a friendship group. Whatever the ‘wish so badly’ , it becomes a nasty piece of coveting when it sabotages ‘the somebody’ else from their ability to retain their own possession, friend, job, dignity etc.
We are all incredibly prone to behaving like this. In one instant our eyes of admiration toward someone or something are yanked viscously by our twisted memories, false impressions and un-true conditioning from role models and the media, the next minute we are turned savages, stripping all good sense and moral and pillaging no matter what is lost or who is hurt along the way. We have become numero uno at all costs – and quite often, we have no idea that is what we have done.
I want us to look a little sideways to an often so innocently appearing companion “Comparison”. Comparison is the skeleton for coveting. If first we never looked outside our own ‘everythings’ to everyone else’s’ ‘everything else, how would we covet? We wouldn’t. Not going to happen. We might still behave as nasty, gossiping, thieving human beings, but our motivation is not going to be to have what someone else had or to be better than such and such. There are many evil tracks we tread and they can’t be tackled in just this one typing session! For now all we are going to tackle is this: without comparison, there is no coveting.
So if comparison is one step towards the darkly covet, it must be pretty off color in itself! Comparison has us look outside our own situation and compare it to another’s. It inevitably deduces that something is better than something else – of course this is an important and productive rationale tool in our brain, but more often than not, the tool it turns out to be is a spanner literally screwing with what it ought not-. We take it from assessing the best location to set up camp to assessing whether we are better off than someone else, or they are better off than us.
So comparison in this sense, either leaves us haughty and proud over someone else or lowly and pathetic compared to the more mighty others. Neither particularly great places to be. Paths that each of these resolutions lead to are vast and most take us away from what is good, true and full in that wonderful abundance of life lived in freedom, hope, worth and love that is so amazingly gifted to us; through a most stunningly generous self sacrificing Father in Heaven through the utmost enduring, love revealing Jesus Christ and the work of an ever gracious and supportive Holy Spirit.