Unlike the nine commandments that come before it, the 10th. commandment does not deal with how people should act, speak or behave in a relationship, but rather how one should think and feel. Ministers of the Word say the 10th. commandment found in Exodus 20: 17 which reads: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbors," can be seen as the root of many other commandments.
"To understand what this commandment means one must understand first of all what coveting means," says Bishop Ros Davis, senior pastor of Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries. "It is to desire something that belongs to somebody else. It is stealing, lying and even murdering in your mind. Breaking this commandment often leads to the breaking of the others. If you can desire so secretly for something that is not yours and wish harm on someone else because of it you are already making yourself mentally capable of stealing, murdering and lying for the sake of this material thing. It is trying to get what is not yours that destroys us. You turn away from that which God has provided for you and compare to what someone else has. You stop being grateful and imagine that you can do better than God can do for you which is a very bad thing. God knows why he only gives us so much. It is so we can depend on Him and learn to be generous when we have excess."
When one covets, one allows a gaping hole which can never be filled to enter your life and destroy you, says Bishop Davis. He says disobeying the 10th. commandment is often the root of disobeying many of the other nine and that when God gave the 10th. commandment it was to teach man to trust in Him to provide for all his needs and learn to be satisfied no matter how rich or poor his life may be compared to others.
He says coveting is allowing greed and temptation to overtake your life which has allowed so much crime and turbulence to reign in society. The bishop says wanting something you see and acquiring it honestly is different from coveting. He says God wants His people to be pure of heart and happy to give and receive and that when you cannot receive something, no matter your means and you wish harm on others or feel they do not deserve their blessings that you cross over into sinning.
"It is when you stray from working honestly to gain your needs and sometimes your wants that you bring destruction upon your life. It is when you desire what is not yours that you corrupt yourself by wishing harm on them in some form or fashion. Once you open yourself up to wanting what isn't yours you will never stop craving," he says. "You will get what you see -- whether it be by good means or ill, but once you have it you will want something else. Eventually your wants will outweigh your needs once greed and hatred overcome you. To avoid this God specifically instructed us not to covet or desire something that is someone else's."
Father Sebastian Campbell, rector at St. Gregory's Anglican Church, says coveting the belongings of another person is like saying your blessings are not enough and God is not the ultimate provider.
"The 10th. commandment simply speaks to us as Christians not to be 'big-eyed' but instead content in all we receive. This covetous nature that many of us have today is a major part of our social crime problems. When God gave this commandment He wanted us to see that we all have been blessed with different gifts and abilities which will help us to be sufficient in our everyday lives. It is not honing our gifts or developing them, but instead busying ourselves by envying someone else's gifts that keeps many of us in poverty."
Fr. Campbell says in not showing appreciation for God's gifts, be they abilities or possessions, results in many people not being able to receive His favor. He says it is an insult to God to continue to look at other persons and assume they are more blessed than you are, as God did not make all of His children the same and we should not wish it to be so. Like all the parts of the body which have different functions but are all important, he says so is it with each person. In obeying the 10th. commandment, the priest says it is important to accept your own gifts and talents and make the best of them.
Commonwealth Mission Baptist Church pastor, Bishop Arnold Josey says when God gave the 10th. commandment it was so his children would learn to be pure not only in word and deed but also in their thoughts. "Crime and evil acts come from the mind, so God was trying to ensure that none of it happened by showing us how to stop it in the root [as] the mind is a powerful thing. The saying goes that if you can conceive it you can achieve it, so it is also with wishing evil on others when you cannot obtain what they have. We see it everyday with men desiring a woman even though she is off the market, siblings fighting over inheritance, marriages falling apart because people cannot learn to be satisfied in their current state of affairs. God shows us how to solve our problems and provides help for us in our times of need but so many of us opt to take from others, wish harm on them and just want more no matter how much we have."
Bishop Josey says you are corrupting your own soul by not being satisfied with what you are given by God. He says you may think just wanting something of someone else's in your mind is not a big deal, but he says it is from a small thought that big things happen -- be they good or bad. So thinking you have done nothing wrong and this commandment is not relevant is a mistake. He says this one of God's laws is absolute.
"In the old days it was simpler for people to be satisfied for some reason. They didn't have much to begin with and they were happy for their small blessings. Today we all have so much yet we can never be satisfied. We want to live above our means and it is destroying us. God foresaw the troubles disobeying this simple commandment could cause and gave the 10th. commandment to combat. We do not listen and may Bahamians are generally not happy people. They cannot cover their expenses and they are distressed. Even so they still gather more debt once something new comes on the market. This is greed as well. We need to stop this and just live simply. Treat yourself at times, but learn most of all to be happy and content. That is all God wants."
Bishop Josey says obeying all 10 of God's laws as closely as possible is the key to finding true happiness since He gave them with the intention of making people's lives as easy and stress-free and pleasing to Him as possible. He says people cause more harm and pain on themselves and the future generations when they think they know everything and do not need to listen to God. For those who wish to restore order to the world around them the bishop advises that you start by re-examining the 10 commandments and sticking to them. They are as follows:
o I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; do not have any other gods before Me.
o You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
o You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
o Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
o Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
o You shall not murder.
o You shall not commit adultery.
o You shall not steal.
o You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
o You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.
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