Freedom from covetousness
THE Tenth Commandment states, ``Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house....''1 Many see this commandment as encouraging them to look to God alone for all good. The commandment is a clear rebuke to the tendency to want what belongs to someone else. Since God is infinite and the source of all good, there's no need to take away the good our neighbor has. We can prove individually, through prayer, that God cares for each of us. Christ Jesus said, ``Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.''2 But what do we do about those who, not recognizing God's care, would covet the good we possess? We need to realize with deep conviction that God has provided for all His creation and that this is a divine law to be cherished in every aspect of our experience.
Here's an example. Several years ago I rented a room in a downtown office building. The office needed some refurbishing and redecorating, which I did at my own expense, since I planned to be there for a few years.
When my first lease was ready for renewal, a representative from the building told me that the company next door wanted my space. They liked what I had done to the office. Because I had first choice I could ask for a renewal. But the building owners put a clause in the contract stating that my neighbor could have my space any time he wanted it. Feeling unwelcome, I moved to a new location. It was a progressive step for me anyway, so things worked out for the better.
But the same things happened again with the next office. My redecorating drew comments of praise from friends, and the people next door wanted the office. So I moved again.
Near the end of the next lease I was told the same story. Someone in the building wanted my space. It was an attractive office in a good location and highly desirable. By now I began to see a pattern I should have recognized before. It seemed to me that the good I had proved through my prayers and understanding of God was frequently taken from me. It seemed that others were coveting (and getting!) what I had secured as a token of God's blessing for me.
I reasoned that God blesses all His children, that the creator has given man dominion, as the Bible teaches, and that this spiritual reality is divine law. All, then, deserve to see and experience the good God has for them. Good is not parceled out in little bits, with only some of God's children receiving it. Because this is spiritual truth, neither coveting nor hoarding has any God-sustained basis.
God's love for us is not partial. The good that God gives is limitless and impartial. Referring to God as Love, Mary Baker Eddy3 writes, ``Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.''4
After praying from this basis I was soon able to reverse the trend. A deeper conviction as to God's love replaced the fear that I neither deserved good nor could secure it. At the same time I realized that God was also well able to take care of everyone else--that in truth He is caring for all, always. I no longer felt threatened. I got a new office in the same building, fixed it up, and was there happily until I had to move to another city.
Those who worship the one God love to obey the Ten Commandments. We want to obey them because we know they will help us. Because they have a divine source, they have universal application to human needs.
It's imperative that we not covet what belongs to another. But isn't it just as imperative not to allow the good we have received to be coveted and taken from us? Many in the world suffer from severe shortages of basic human needs. Ultimately, the answer to everyone's needs can only be found in the spiritual reality of God's care for all His creation. It can only be found through our clear realization of this universal truth, a realization attained in heartfelt prayer and in our own daily practice of the Ten Commandments.
1Exodus 20:17. 2Matthew 6:8. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19