The 10th Commandment: You Shall Not Covet
What does "you shall not covet" mean?
You shall not covet is the tenth of the 10 Commandments.
Summary: "The 10th commandment is the most searching of them all, for it forbids the inward longing, the covetous desire for what belongs to another. The presence of such a deeply spiritual command among the "ten words" shows that we have before us no mere code of laws defining crimes, but a body of ethical and spiritual precepts for the moral education of the people of Yahweh." (IBSE)
Scripture: Exodus 20:17, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
Relationship focus: People and people
The Tenth Commandment
Unlike the other commandments which focus on outward actions, this commandment focuses on thought.
It is an imperative against setting one’s desire on things that are forbidden. One commandment forbids the act of adultery. This commandment forbids the desire for adultery. One commandment forbids stealing.
This commandment forbids the desire for unjust acquisition of another’s goods. The New Testament describes Jesus as interpreting the Ten Commandments as issues of the heart’s desires rather than merely prohibiting certain outward actions.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder,” and “anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. — Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28 (NIV)
The command against coveting is seen as a natural consequence of the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The prohibition against desiring forbidden things is also seen as a moral imperative for the individual to exercise control over the thoughts of his mind and the desires of his heart.
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