The Tenth Commandment --You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor's Goods
by Deacon Tom Frankenfield
It was a gorgeous sunny day in Smiletown, where Hank and Charlie lived. Hank and Charlie were not only brothers--they were best friends. They did everything together from when they were babies like crawling together as infants, to learning to ride bikes at the same time as toddlers. Now as ten year olds playing sports together and even going to school together—they were like twins, even though Hank was older. They spent most of their time together. In fact they even shared a room and bunk beds.
Hank and Charlie lived across the street from a young boy named Ted. Ted had everything that the two boys ever wished for. Ted was an only child of a parents that had unlimited amounts of money. Ted’s parents loved to give Ted gifts--lots of gifts
Whenever the boys would go to Ted’s house, Hank would just stare at all the cool things Ted owned. Ted had three bicycles—one for racing, another for mountain climbing, and one for riding to school. It was the most amazing thing that they ever saw, since each of the boys only had one bicycle.
Hank wanted to spend lots of time with Ted. However, when Hank was with Ted, his manners started to change. Hank always asked Ted about his belongings. He would ask Ted to show him the stuff. Next, he would ask Ted to let Hank play with the things. Pretty soon Hank wanted to spend all his time with Ted.
Soon, Hank stopped spending time with Charlie. No longer did Hank want to play with Charlie. Hank would say, “I don’t have time for you Charlie, my good friend Ted and I are busy.” Then Hank would run across the street to Ted’s house and leave Charlie alone.
Over time, all that Hank could only think about was Ted’s stuff. Next, Hank became grouchy and wanted nothing to do with his family. One night at dinner, he shouted, “I wish I was not in this family. I wish I was in Ted’s family where they have great things. I don’t even like to have here. If I was Ted’s brother, I would have desert every night.”
Hank’s dad said, “Stop that talk!” and called Hank into the living room and said, "Hank, we need to chat."
His dad said, “Hank you are my son, I give you everything I can including my deep and total love. Still, I need to tell you that your behavior is inappropriate and that you are falling into the trap of coveting. The tenth commandment tells us not to covet our neighbor’s goods.”
He went further to say, “Hank, coveting is when you want something that belongs to someone else so much it changes you and usually leads to others sins.” He explained how his coveting Ted’s good had indeed changed Hank.
He showed Hank how Hank was now grouchy and cranky and how Hank was no longer joyful, like God calls everyone to become. Finally he showed Hank how all he talked about were new Stuff. Hank had stopped talking about the really important things in life like how much he loved his brothers and sister, family and how much he cared for everyone. Most of all, he had stopped talking about God’s love in his life.
Hank stood in shock. Hank could not believe what his parents were saying. His mother put her arm around him and said, “Yes son, everything your father mentioned is true and more. Your marks in school are dropping, too. Be careful! Coveting can lead to other sins.”
Hank began to cry because Hank had realized he had truly forgotten others and all he thought about was Ted’s stuff. Even though Ted was generous, Hank’s problem was that he wanted Ted’s goods more than anything else in life. That is why command us in the Tenth Commandment:
My friends, all you have are what God has given you. Although God gives different things to different people, what is important is that we be happy in life and use our gifts wisely to make the world a better place for each other to live and for God to do His work.
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