That is Good News! Coveting breeds the spirit of comparison
Published 4:26 pm Saturday, January 4, 2020
“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.” Exodus 20:17
Upon an initial read, it would seem that the tenth and final commandment that God gave to His people is culturally not applicable in modernity. That is not the case however.
You were probably instructed as a child, and even reminded through adulthood, to not compare yourself with someone else. This type of admonition doesn’t have to be biblical to be wise, but the general idea does have its roots in the tenth commandment.
It is not helpful to feel either negative or positive about your life in comparison to another.
The danger of comparison, especially when it comes to lamenting what you don’t have that someone else has, is an unrealistic expectation of what “should be” and a lack of submission to the Lord has designed for a person’s life.
On the other hand, comparison can lead to an attitude and posture of arrogance and entitlement that also is an unrealistic expectation and lack of acknowledging God’s nature. The danger of comparison leads to coveting, and coveting breeds the spirit of comparison.
We must be reminded that the Lord instructs us with intentionality, purpose and for the ongoing transformation of our being. It is not by accident that the tenth commandment deals with coveting.
As we have discussed, the last six commandments deal with our relationship with others. Refraining from disrespect towards parents, stealing, murdering, adultery and giving false witness are outward acts that have devastating consequences on society and personal relationships.
The command to not covet is something that takes place within the mind and heart of a person. It is fair to infer that all the acts that the Lord commands to refrain from doing are essentially birthed from a coveting heart.
The summarized and foundational command that Jesus fought was to love God, others and even ourselves. When we yearn for something someone else has that we don’t, we begin to move our hearts towards actions that harm others.
This is not love for another and with that not love for the Lord.
There is nothing wrong with having hopes, dreams and things we are working forwards. There is also nothing wrong with looking at what others have achieved as examples and inspiration for what we desire to work for.
The issue is what attitude in our heart is striving for the things in life that we see in others. If we strive for better things just to gratify our personal need for success or accolade, then we are doing that for the wrong reason.
The old saying tells us, “to thine own self be true,” but in the end this attitude deceives us and is actually the opposite of loving our self.
The only opinion of your life that should matter is the opinion the Lord has about you. God loves you and there is nothing you can do about that.
This opinion and truth about all people is the great equalizer in God’s kingdom.
No one can earn God’s love or earn more special love, so there is no need to compare your life to another. Surrender to what the Lord has purposed for your life is the greatest form of freedom a person can find.
If you do feel the need to compare or covet, then look for people who are the great examples of the surrendered life and strive to emulate them as they emulate a Christ.
In a world where everything is compared and ranked, God’s love gives all who will surrender the chance to have a life that thrives. And that is good news.
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.