Thou Shalt Not Covet

I paused when I read this line from today’s daily meditation by Richard Rohr: “I’ve never heard a single sermon my entire life on the tenth commandment—’Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy neighbor’s’ (Exodus 20:17)”

I did a quick scroll through my memory for sermons I’ve heard.  And while I can’t swear I never heard a sermon on the tenth commandment, I certainly can’t recall a time that I did hear one.

Rohr’s explanation for this absence is that “coveting goods is the only game in town now. It’s called capitalism and consumerism!”  Sounds right to me.  We live in a society that values people by what we earn, produce, have and consume – and the temptations to go along with that way of thinking are strong.

How does one reconcile the tenth commandment with the reality of our world today?  Do we just scrap that commandment and keep the other nine?

Or do we acknowledge the pull of the world and actively work against covetousness, making efforts to support each other in an alternative lifestyle that emphasizes other values? Values like:

Faith in God vs. security in what we have.

Giving vs. acquiring.

Simplicity vs. the need for the newest and best.

Rohr made his comments in the context of Paul’s preaching about the importance of community.  We need to both individually and corporately as Christians model a set of values different from those of the world in which we live.


One thought on “Thou Shalt Not Covet

  1. This 10th Commandment from Old Testament offers a good counter cultural idea here. This idea is or can be very political. I will go there. Are we strong enough to take it?
    Do we support war because we covet control of others’ natural resources? Do we invade other countries or think that if we keep relations with countries rife with human rights violations because we covet being “safe” and believe war is the answer? Maybe we need to look at our needs more prayerfully.

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