The Principle of Contentment

Behind every commandment, there is a principle. If we carefully look at those principles we will notice that we are probably guilty of all. We have broken them at some time in our lives. The Ten Commandments were not given to us to make God happy. They were given to us to make us happy. These are very important principles to live by in order so that we can have a victorious life. God loves us, we are his children, even if we mess up and miss the mark. These principles enhance our relationship with God and with each other.

Exodus 20:17 17 “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.”

We usually boil it down to “Thou shall not covet”. That’s ok, so long as we know what covet means.

What does covet mean?

There is a principle of contentment that God is trying to instill in our lives. The only reason that we would covet what someone else has is because we are not content with what we have.

How have your desires changed in your life from when you were younger to where you are now?

Hebrews 13 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

This is a quote from Joshua 1:5 when he says to Joshua, after Moses died, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Most of us are very familiar with that verse. The way we are content is by knowing he will never leave us nor forsake us, He will always be with us, and he is our Father.

The 10 commandments are in 2 places in the Old Testament, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Deuteronomy means the second law (or the law a second time), Exodus mean to exit, or to go out, referring to when the Israelites exited Egypt. Leviticus means, pertaining to the Levites, but we describe it as the law, and Deuteronomy is the law a second time. Sometimes it’s a little different so it’s good to look at both to get a fuller understanding.

Deuteronomy 5 21 ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’

Covet means to desire, but it’s stronger than that. It means to strongly desire.

What’s an example of a strong desire? What are some examples of why a person would have this strong desire?

God is not saying you shall not desire or shall not have desires. Rather, you shall not desire what belongs to someone else. That’s what coveting is. Coveting is not desiring a better house, a nice reliable vehicle, a better school system, that’s ok. In fact, if you look at the 10 commandments, they show that God believes in personal property because He’s saying don’t covet what belongs to someone else and the 8th commandment says don’t steal. 

Is it possible for a mature Christian to covet?

It’s amazing how many things in the bible go back to Genesis. Adam & Eve ate the fruit of the tree.

What did Satan do to get them to eat the fruit?

He got them to covet. He got them to desire something that didn’t belong to them. God said you can have all the trees, except that one. That one is mine.

Genesis 3 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 

Satan took something that didn’t belong to them and made it look good. Satan doesn’t have any new tricks.

He will try to do everything he can to make what your neighbor has look better than what you have. Your neighbor is everyone you encounter. Jesus said love God with all your heart mind soul and strength, love your neighbor as yourself, when they asked who your neighbor is, he told the story of the good Samaritan who encountered the man (he didn’t live next door). Anyone you encounter is your neighbor.

Here’s what Satan does, he does everything he can to get us to want, or desire things we shouldn’t have. Covetousness causes us to resent God because God is doing something for them and not me. Covetousness is more serious than we think. It made it to the top ten.

What are common distractions that cause covetousness?

This is what Jesus says about it:

Luke 12:15 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.

Covetousness is also listed alongside some very serious sins:

1 Corinthians 5 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousnesswhich is idolatry.

How is covetousness idolatry?

Exodus 20:17 17 “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.”

Let me give a catch all. Don’t covet his truck, his BBQ Grill. Don’t covet her clothes, or jewelry. Don’t covet their money. Anything. It boils down to people and property.

Contentment vs. Contention

If you look at the root of these words, Content is the root word. Content means satisfied, or the state of satisfaction. Contention means struggle or quarrel. This is a person who’s not content and has an inner struggle. If you are not content, you are in contention, always competing. When we are not content, we compare. Our house, our job, our spouse.

When you compare and are dissatisfied it’s because of inferiority or superiority. If my house is nicer than yours and I have discontentment in my heart, I could feel superior. If my house is not as nice as yours and I have discontentment in my heart I will feel inferior.

What are the dangers of comparison?

Coveting will not allow you to rejoice when someone else gets blessed, and if someone you don’t like gets blessed you get mad. Or if something bad happens to someone else, you rejoice a little bit.

Have you ever done this?

2 Corinthians 10 12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

People who compare themselves with each other are foolish.

Do you think this happens a lot on social media?

Psalm 37 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

What has changed in your mind from then to now? How has your thinking changed?