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Today’s Truth

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Exodus 20:17

Friend to Friend

Have you ever been in a situation with other women when you felt inadequate?

I had that experience when I was a university student. Oddly enough, my school had a handful of beauty pageant winners and I seemed to sit near them in every class. I’d walk in a communication class and find myself next to Miss Pennsylvania. In another class, the beautiful young lady seated in the row in front of me ended up being Miss California. At graduation, I sat next to a different friend, Miss Virginia, who would literally become Miss America a few months later that year.

Surrounded by these lovely beauty queens, it was easy to think, “Oh no! How am I ever going to get married if I am not even Miss Neighborhood!”

We can compare ourselves unfavorably to others and covet a few crowns along the way. Whether it is someone’s high ranking title, happy marriage, dream job, or amazing wardrobe, it’s in our sin nature to want more than we have. To covet means “to wish for earnestly, to desire what belongs to another.” The Bible tells us in the Tenth Commandment not to covet our neighbor’s house, wife, servants, animals, or belongings.

In other words, don’t have an overwhelming desire to remodel your kitchen after you see your neighbor’s beautiful new cabinets. Don’t stew about your boring marriage as you think about your friend going on a cruise with her romantic dream boat of a husband. Don’t wish for a housekeeper like your friend has, or yearn for a designer purse like the one you saw at church last Sunday.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t save money to remodel your kitchen, or plan an amazing vacation. You can certainly desire good things for yourself and pursue them. But there’s an important difference between wanting something, and wanting something that belongs to another person.

When you covet, want, desire what is someone else’s, you swing open the door for sin to enter. See how it is a heart of covetousness that lies at the root of other commandments? Adultery happens because someone wanted a person that did not belong to him or her. Stealing happens because someone wanted a possession that did not belong to him. Murder begins with a covetous thought and ends with the taking of a life.

Listen to the way you talk to yourself. Do you detect the language of discontent? I wish I had a house like that. Oh, if only I was married like her! I wish I had beautiful jewelry like my friend.

What can be done about our covetous ways? A heart of contentment is the cure. A heart that rejoices when others rejoice. A heart that says, “I have enough. I am satisfied.” Like the Apostle Paul, may we learn how to be in want and also how to abound. In every state we find ourselves in, may we cultivate contentment.

Even if we’re not Miss Florida, or Miss Hawaii, or Miss Anything.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, forgive me for wanting what other people have. I don’t want to act spoiled or ungrateful. I will count my many blessings today. Teach me to honor You with a heart of contentment.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Ask God to search your heart. Answer this question: Is there anything you are coveting right now?

More from the Girlfriends

Read more stories like Arlene’s Miss America tale in her book 31 Days to a Younger You. For more about Arlene’s other books, visit her website.

8 Responses to “You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Crown”

  1. Terri says:

    I really don’t want other people’s things I do find myself wishing I had their energy, health, or diligentance. How hard they work or how much they get done. I suffer from clinical depression. It is so hard to understand. I struggle with the simplest of things others take for granted. I start to count my blessings and that helps. It is still a struggle and not finding any pill that will help. I love people and that helps some. Unfortunately people are so busy it hurts not to feel free even to call.

  2. Thank you for your honesty. May God bring you daily comfort . Take small steps to get more energy, from sleeping more to getting outdoors for short walk. Keep counting those blessings. You will be a blessing to others with your story!

  3. Michelle says:

    This devotion was a great reminder to me. I have those momentary longings but try my best with God’s help to be grateful for the blessings I do have.

  4. Michelle says:

    I struggle with depression also, have tryed many medications, none have helped all had terrible side effects. But I am jealous of my neighbors beautiful yard their gorgeously decorated home and the fun things they do as a family. I beat myself up about it put myself down for being lazy and unmotivated, never did I link it to the depression until I read your reply. Thank you I will now thank the Lord for my blessings and ease up on the self criticism.

  5. I never thought I could compete for several reason, but the Lord reminded me that I was not in competition I was in Christ. It’s not a beauty contest in Him, He’s the one who makes us beautiful. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord. Isaiah 62:3

  6. Beth says:

    I was having this conversation with my husband just this morning, and with a preacher’s wife friend of mine not too long ago. Sometimes people treat you a certain way because they look at your life from the outside…but they have NO IDEA what it’s like to be you and do your day-to-day. I’m a creative in a very conservative place and have concluded that although I might not be most folks’ cup of tea, I’m Jesus’ cup of tea, and I’m all right! Sometimes you can’t tell if it’s jealousy or just weirdness. For the last 20 years or so since I relocated to this city I have had a heck of a time just connecting with other women. I’ve lived in different parts of the country and have ALWAYS had FRIENDS that I could call on or meet for a cup of coffee. I’ve always been in church but growing weary of actively seeking a place to “fit in”. I don’t believe in church-hopping, either. I’m not high-maintenance and am loyal to a fault, friendly and outgoing. I figure when God wants me to find my tribe, I’ll find them! Blessings to all.

  7. Abby says:

    I can identify with Terri, Michelle & Beth’s responses. I also suffer from depression. Playing the “comparing” or “wishing I had what she has” game doesn’t help it. I look at other people and think they have it all. Then I learn of a problem or struggle they have been dealing with. I know a lot of people,but I have few close friends. I get envious of others at church who always seem to have a lot of friends and be invited to everything. However, I also know I am a child of the King ad valued by Him.

  8. Deb says:

    As I read the different responses this evening, I thought of how often I have “coveted” others’ things, lives, etc. What I have come to know is that most of them have lives I wouldn’t want to step into. I too suffer from depression, but have learned to celebrate the success of others. I recognize – finally – that celebrating others brings me joy! It brings giddiness to see the blessings God brings to His people. I am one of His people too! For years, I didn’t ask because of the self doubt and knowledge that I was not worthy of His gifts, His blessings. Finally embracing the love Jesus has for me, recognizing I will never be perfect, and being thankful for being one step closer with each day I yearn to be more like Him, helps me to realize I can celebrate daily for the renewal of my mind, my heart and my walk with Him! Fro that, blessings appear everywhere! From a restored marriage, more blessings than I can count and a smile even on the grayest of days when I can’t say or do anything else except, “I trust you, Jesus.” I have a crown of a princess… A heavenly princess – some days it is a little crooked, but my Heavenly Father straightens it and yet again, reminds me I am His.

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