Approximately three and a half millennia ago, Moses, the Israelite prophet, descended Mt. Sinai with stone tablets which had been inscribed by the hand of God. Known as the Ten Commandments, they contained laws which, if obeyed, promised to increase happiness and true joy among the people. Since that time, these simple commandments have routinely served as the foundation for civil and criminal laws throughout the world. But there is one commandment that often gets overlooked, possibly because of its location at the bottom of the list. It says, in summary, “Thou shalt not covet.”
Coveting is a fervent desire to acquire the wealth, status, or property of another person. We become envious of someone’s advantages, successes, and power. It motivates us to say, “What I have is not enough. I must have more.” When we choose to covet, we are essentially confessing, “I love money and the things it can buy. My goal in life is to become so rich that I can have whatever I want.”
Now it’s easy to justify this desire with the words, “And just think of all the good that I can do with this wealth. If I’m independently wealthy, I’ll be able to volunteer more, help other people, and accomplish more good. Someday. But right now, I really need a boat.”
Of course, riches, in and of themselves aren’t good or bad. Kind of like the internet or nuclear fission technology. It is how they are used that’s good or bad. It’s how much we love them. It’s how much they get in the way of the more important things of life.
So, what’s the cure for this greediness, this covetousness, this dysfunctional desiring disorder that dams our delight? Well, there’s many. But the one that might work the quickest is practicing the strength of gratitude. Because if we are genuinely grateful for the many opportunities, gifts, and blessings which we already have, it is almost impossible to covet, or envy, or begrudge, or lust after those things that we don’t have, and thus obey the 10th Commandment, as well as all the others.
“Your jealousy will last longer than the joy of those you are jealous of.”Amit Kalantri
Assignment A: Write a paragraph identifying some of the things you possess or circumstances you enjoy that other people may wish they had. Be genuine and specific.
Assignment B: Search online to find a video, article, photo, or advertisement that describes someone who is significantly poorer than you. Upload the link. Then describe how it makes you feel.