You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
Friends in Christ,
To summarize these commandments, we should not be jealous. It is fairly simple. We should feel no jealousy or envy over what other people have, no matter how nice it may seem or how much we may think that we deserve it.
Coveting is similar to lust. It is a desire, a feeling, or a thought. It is something that occurs in our hearts and minds, not in our hands. You cannot tell if a person is coveting by looking at them. Only God can see this in their hearts. But we can see it within ourselves.
It is not wrong to see something and wish to have it by legitimate means. What is wrong is desiring to have the exact thing that belongs to someone else, not something like it. And when we desire to possess the God-given gifts of another person it often drives us to despise them, to hate them in our hearts, to murder them with our minds.
Not only must we not sin with our bodies, but we must restrain sin in our hearts as well. And that is an impossible task. We might be able to drive out a thought or two every day. But to control every covetous impulse would be impossible.
We must repent of this covetousness in our lives. Wherever you lust after the property of another, confess the sin to Christ. If you are jealous of a friend or envious of an enemy, confess the sin to Christ. He will forgive. His blood was shed for just such a sin as this. And He shall restore you to the joy of His kingdom.
The collect (church-wide prayer) for the Fifth Sunday of Easter reads like this: “O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found.”
May the Lord indeed restore each of us with a heart that truly loves and desires what is good, right, and beneficial.