“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” — Exodus 20:17 (NIV84)
We’ve heard the phrases, “The grass is greener on the other side” and “Keeping up with the Jones’s.” If you’re at all like me, you’ve used these phrases and applied them to yourself. You look at your current situation and conclude that if you only had what someone else had, your life would be fine. Each of these phrases characterizes the lack of contentment we have in our hearts when we look at our life. Listen to me carefully. It is not wrong to dream of better things. It is not wrong to aspire to success. But it is always wrong to despise our situation so much that we turn to our neighbors with covetousness and jealousy for what they have. The problem with coveting and jealousy is that it is a horizontal view — it leaves God out of the picture. We need to continuously look up. We need to know that God is with us in our current situation, and He will be with us as we dream and work toward a brighter future.
Looking horizontally leads to two major issues: First, very quickly our faith walk becomes focused on what our physical eyes can see because that’s all we allow ourselves to see. We need to walk by faith and trust that God has everything in control. We need to see God in our today and in our future. Second, when we focus on what others have, we begin to develop negative feelings toward them. Our covetousness and jealousy will lead us into sinful thoughts, and possibly actions, that ultimately damage our faith.
Instead of looking around at what others have, we ought to look at what we have. We’ve heard the phrase so often, “Count your blessings!” Well, it’s true. We have a God who loves us so much that He redeemed us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. We have a God who provides us life and breath, love and laughter, joy and peace, and the promise of eternal life when our life here on earth is over. Let’s not focus on earthly things we do not have but rather on the spiritual and eternal things we do have!