Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 6:00 pm
The Messenger, November 1, 2012
Are You Content?
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
With the Tenth Commandment, we have come full circle, back to the very First Commandment: Who, or what, will we worship?
Question 113 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks: What is God’s will for you in the Tenth Commandment? Answer: That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any one of God’s commandments should ever arise in my heart. Rather, with all my heart I should always hate sin and take pleasure in whatever is right.
God commands us to worship only Him, but instead we worship wealth, beauty, status, entertainment — we covet the sense of security we find in stuff, busyness and human relationships. These things become our gods. God commands us to reverence His name — but we call ourselves “Christians” while living lives that dishonor the Lord, coveting our pet sins above the hard work of holy living. God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy — but we covet leisure and sleep in late; we covet entertainment and boob out in front of the football game; we covet wealth and turn the Sabbath into just another work day.
God commands us to honor our parents, but we covet different parents: “If only my parents loved me more …” “If my parents were more understanding …” We are commanded not to murder — but we envy our neighbor, because he has more than we do; we resent a co-worker who doesn’t pull his weight, but gets the boss’s approval anyway; we bad-mouth the in-laws who spend more time and money on the other grandkids. We covet the recognition and the benefits that others have, that we want for ourselves — and we view those around us with malice instead of with love and goodwill.
God commands us to be sexually pure — instead, we covet the excitement of an on-line relationship at a porn site chat room. Women pine for the romance depicted in the latest chick-flick, drooling over some Hollywood hunk. Men subscribe to Men’s Health and Hot Rod magazine, but not for the fitness tips or the cars.
Kevin DeYoung writes in “The Good News We Almost Forgot”: “If you are frequently complaining about your house, your spouse, the quality or quantity of your possessions or the general state of your life, you are breaking the Tenth Commandment. Contentment and covetousness are opposites … if you aren’t content, you’re almost certain coveting.”
You get the picture. From the First Commandment to the last, we find that we are discontent and we covet what we do not have. But if everybody covets, is coveting really so terrible?
In I Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul lumps coveters — those greedy for what they do not have — with idolaters, adulterers, those who practice homosexuality, thieves, drunkards and swindlers. (That’s the company we keep, folks.) Ephesians 5:3 says that covetousness must not even be named among the saints. Again, in Colossians 3:5-6, we read, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
Yep, it’s that bad. We are that bad. Do we have any hope?
First, we have Jesus, who kept every single one of God’s commands, both in practice and in His heart. Jesus could truly say, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Jesus was pleased — content — to obey God the Father perfectly, even to the point of death on the cross (Matthew 26:42). And it’s the perfect righteousness of Jesus that is credited to those who repent and trust in Him.
Second, we have the Holy Spirit, and He is making us new. Romans 6:4 tells us to “walk in newness of life.” While we were once “darkness,” in Jesus we are “light” — called to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5). Are we going to mess up? Absolutely. But, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will not be defeated when we stumble. We will repent and diligently strive anew to walk in holiness.
Question 114 of the Heidelberg asks: But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly? Answer: No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.
Let’s begin today.
Editor’s note: Camille Kendall, wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.