Ever Wanted Your Neighbor's Donkey?

Bible Book: Deuteronomy  5 : 21
Subject: Ten Commandments; Lust; Coveting; Covetousness; Materialism; Envy

Deuteronomy 5:21

There may be someplace in the world where someone might actually covet or wish he/she had a donkey like his neighbor, but in most of the world that is not a problem; however, people all over the world and all, through the ages, have seen something someone else has and wished they had one like it. On occasion a person does note desire something akin to that which a neighbor has but wants to have the very thing the neighbor has! Why is it that most people are never satisfied with what they have and always want more, better or bigger?

God knows what all of us are like and gave us a commandment to help us control that desire. The commandment concerning covetousness, or wrongful desires, is found in Deuteronomy 5:21. This commandment deals with wanting things that are not best for us and not right for us to desire.

I. Keeping This Commandment Makes The Others Easier

Look at James 4:2.

Whenever any of the other nine commandments are broken, this commandment about not coveting is always broken first. How many people do you know who are perfectly content just as they are - wanting nothing else? Any time we see what others have and we begin to think they we cannot live without what we are seeing, we are breaking this commandment. We say, “Having this would sure make me happy.” Not that God is interested in what our heart is looking at as well as what our hands are grabbing for.

II. Why Is This Commandment So Easy To Break?

Note Psalms 19:10; and, 1 Corinthians 12:31.

"Desire" is a basic thing God gave to all of us, but it was given for us to use in our relationship with Him - to want to be with Him, to delight in His Word, and to lead us to honor Him.

Why is it so easy for us to break this particular commandment? It is easy because of the "Me, My, and Mine" syndrome. It is what we focus on and why we want it. It is what we think we must have to be happy and that we deserve it more than those who have it. In a sense we are deciding that God doesn't know as well as we do what we really need. We want what others have because we think it will satisfy us. We believe that what makes others happy would make us happy too, if we only we had what they have.

Have you ever eaten in a restaurant and while eating you saw somebody with food that you wished you had ordered? Have you ever thought that you would be more comfortable, more safe, more important, or more accepted if you only had what somebody else has or you were doing what someone else is doing?

Adults are like children with a new toy. Quickly a child becomes bored with a toy and tosses it aside. Like children, adults "cry and beg" in their own way to get what they want only to quickly lose interest once that particular thing is attained. Adults are no different than their children except in regard to the nature of the "toys" they want.

III. Why Breaking This Commandment Is Wrong

People were made for a relationship with God and real satisfaction and contentment can be found only in that relationship. Look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Fellowship with God and God provided all their needs. We, too, are here for the same purpose as Adam and Eve - fellowship with God and with the understanding that God provides all our needs. Satisfaction and contentment will come when we let God do what He knows is best for us and when we allow Him to do what He wants to do for us.

Adam and Eve chose to do things their way apart from God and immediately experienced separation, loneliness, emptiness and loss of contentment. Like Adam and Eve, we also have chosen to do things our own way apart from God and therefore we have experienced the same feelings they did and are constantly searching for satisfaction. Because we try to be satisfied with what the world has, we experience war, divorce, adultery, theft, lies, murder and indebtedness – among other sad conditions in life.

Only God can fill the place in our lives that actually belongs to Him. Nothing else in this world can bring peace and satisfaction!

IV. How To Keep This Commandment

Look at Philippians 4:11-13; and, Colossians 3:1-7; 15-16)

Can the insatiable craving, coveting, lusting and always wanting more that is found in the human heart ever be stopped? Yes and No.

As long as we continue trying to find security and contentment in the things we have or the things we covet, no – we will never be satisfied.

If we return to the only real, original source of the Christian's satisfaction (God), the answer is, “Yes!” We can know peace, joy and contentment. Paul learned the secret and revealed it to us, as recorded Philippians and Colossians.

For the Christian, the feelings of emptiness, insecurity and insignificance are not true and real facts. For the Christian, what is there to fear? Who is there to impress? What is there to want? The Christian is forgiven, reconciled to God, free from Satan and Death. The child of God has the privileges of a child of the King, eternal life and a home in heaven made by God, Himself. What could the world possibly have to offer the Christian better than what God has given?

The Christian needs to remember that God wants to provide everything that is needed. In doing so, the law of "do not covet" will not be hard to keep at all.


Note Jeremiah 2:11-13.

God is the only source that will ever satisfy the hunger the Christian has for what is best in life. Whenever God is traded for the world the "Me, My, Mine" syndrome controls and that is nothing less that being enslaved to coveting.

Whenever God is allowed to do the providing, the more content and fulfilled the Christian becomes and the less he/she needs from the world in order to be happy. The less a Christian requires, the more freedom there is to enjoy God and His creation.

When the commandment "do not covet" is broken, all of the other nine will also be broken. If you want to keep all of God's commandments, start with this one, "...do not covet.”