3/1 - Thou shall not covet

. Posted in 2013 Lenten Readings

Thou shall not covet

[My view by Jim Swaeby in the March 2012 “Lutheran” magazine]


“Sin starts with wanting it all.


   Included among the “should nots” is one that gets little notice. “Don’t covet” made it to the top 10, yet it gets little recognition and attention. Many cannot define the word.

   The Ten Commandments do not raise a very high bar. Almost all cultures have prohibitions against killing, stealing and lying. Respect of ancestors has always been universally observed…

   It is coveting that leads to murder: we want another’s life. It is the cause of stealing: we want his stuff. We lie to get what is not ours. It starts with coveting.

   But wait, is it not coveting when we want our Social Security benefits paid for by those who will never see their own retirement checks? Do we covet food and watching TV over a healthy body?

   Does everything a high-income person earns belong to the government? Is anything they get back because of loopholes and tax breaks? Get back? Wasn’t it their money to start with? We want our government benefits paid for with others’ tax money. We covet what we want now, and run huge deficits, to be repaid by future generations.

   We covet the oil in lands of other people, or at the expense of God’s creation, so we can waste gasoline driving big cars. We use energy to air-condition or overheat the places where we live, shop, work, study and worship.

   We covet our comfort now. We are not worried if our descendants do not have oil, agricultural land, minerals, forests, flowing streams, polar bears, an ocean with fish and plentiful food. We covert healthcare others have and we can’t afford. We covet schools for our kids, paid for by taxes on others.

   We export our bad air, child labor, lack of worker safety and environmental destruction so we can get our TVs, clothes, toys and watches from poor countries on the cheap. We covet the low-wage labor of migrant farm workers to get our grapes and oranges at low cost. We covet bargain priced eggs and meat over humane treatment of animals.

   We covet bigger houses, faster cars, elegant churches, full stomachs and sexual experiences at the detriment of others.     Thou shall not covet.”


Submitted by Kathy Cranson