"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass (donkey), nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." Exodus 20:17
When I was a kid, it was a big deal what kind of shoes you wore, and it was big news when someone got a brand new pair of shoes. The kids who had Payless shoes went around the back of the class to see the teacher at her desk, and the kids with the cool shoes went right in the front and sauntered slowly up to her desk. Everyone stopped what they were doing to gawk at the shoes and it seemed like the world was going in slow motion as they went by. We acted like the shoes made us faster, which was debatable, but we definitely knew they made us cooler. We judged everyone by the shoes they wore and sometimes these competitions turned into fisticuffs.
I was known to own a pair of cool shoes now and again, and I seemed to be on top of my game until my best friend's cousin arrived at our school. He was faster than me, better at basketball than me, and he even had cooler shoes than me. I instantly did not like him and the first time we met at a park, we got into a fight. I was jealous of him only because I was not him. I tried to beat him in basketball and came up short, and my clothes and shoes were not as cool as his were. I became envious of him and started to covet the things he possessed that I did not. I asked my dad why I could not have those cool shoes and clothes, and he simply said, "you have what you need". I was dissatisfied with his answer as I felt he could simply open up his wallet and solve all of my wants. I remember telling my soccer coach about my dilemma and he told me, "Your dad can afford to buy you a whole shoe store". I told my dad what my coach said, but this did not bring me closer to getting the Air Jordan shoes I wanted.
As we grew older, my best friend's cousin eventually became my friend, but I still coveted the things he had. The new Air Jordans came out every February during All Star weekend, and it seemed my friend always got the latest and greatest Air Jordans while I was stuck with the shoes I had from the beginning of the school year. I was not content with what I had and coveted after things that now seem trivial and silly. I was in high school and still feeling this way when I found out a dirty little secret. I asked my friend how he was able to get the latest Jordans when his dad was not around and it seemed his mom worked hard to make ends meet. He smiled big when I asked him, and he said he would "borrow" his mom's credit card and purchase the shoes without her knowing. He said she never questioned him as she did not check her statement closely. It was the month of his birthday, so he said it was a gift to himself. I was shocked to hear this, and I asked why he would do this. He laughed at me and simply said, "because I want it."
I reflected upon what he said, and his words echoed in my head. I began to question if I wanted something so badly that I would steal from my own parents. I was a lot of things in life, but I never dreamed of stealing from my own parents. Stealing was a line I would not cross as I really did have everything I needed. I had nice clothes and shoes, a nice home, delicious meals, and a family that loved me. I began to realize I was coveting what I did not have instead of being thankful for what I already had. We often covet after things that do not matter when God has given us things that do matter. We set our eyes on things that will soon pass away instead of being grateful for that which will last forever. As I look back, I feel foolish for wanting a silly pair of Air Jordans when I grew up in a loving home for which I will be forever grateful. I did not have the latest Air Jordans, but I sure did have everything I needed and more.
Where are you today friend? What are you coveting after? Do you see desire the latest and greatest technology, clothes or shoes? Do you desire the car your neighbor has? How about their husband or wife? Do you wish you had what someone else has, or are you grateful for what God has given you? I Timothy 6:8 states, “And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content.” Are you content with what God has given you? May we be careful in how we view our situation as compared to others. God has been so good to us, and His riches are not to be compared to the "Air Jordans" of life that will simply rot away. I was told by a friend to keep a loose grip on the things of this world, so that I do not miss them when they are taken away. May we not covet after that which will soon be forgotten, but may we instead have a heart of praise to our God who is good all the time.
Stay in the fight!