Second Sunday after Trinity – Friday
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s. – Exodus 20:17.
These are God’s Ninth and Tenth Commandments. These two commandments deal with the same sin (covetousness); they only differ with regard to the object of the coveting. God would impress upon us that He regards not only the outward deed, but also the desire of the heart. “Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 13:9).
This is what God wants us to understand. And it is so hard for us to understand. Our sin-darkened minds do not consider evil lust to be sin, if it does not lead to outward sinful words and actions. And the devil encourages us to think that as long as we refrain from the outward act, all is well. But God does not want an unclean heart. “Ye shall be holy,” says He (Leviticus 19:2). If something belongs to our neighbor, we are not to desire it, not to covet it greedily, not to hanker after it, nor endeavor to get it into our possession, even though it be with a show of right. To do so is against the divine law of love. Just as God enjoins love, so He forbids evil lust. Both dwell within the heart. God wants our heart to be holy. Instead of coveting what is our neighbor’s, we should heartily desire that he may keep what is his, and also assist him in this. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,” in kind and thoughtful consideration (Philippians 2:4). “The love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10). “Envy [is] the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30).
Greed and envy are an abomination unto the Lord, and roots of sin, and vicious and prolific seeds of evil (James 1:14-15). Who can stand before these commandments? “If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
PRAYER – My God, I am full of evil lust and am most unclean. Evil roots of sin sprout up within my heart, unholy desires are as rottenness in my bones. Continue to be gracious to me, O God; continue to be gracious to me for Jesus’ sake! Continue to hide Thy face from my sins; continue to impute to me the righteousness of Thy dear Son! Continue to give to me the divine power of Thy Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word; continue to create and sustain a new spirit within me, that I may serve Thee in the new mind according to Thy commandments, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Thy neighbor’s house desire thou not,
his wife, nor aught that he hath got;
but wish that his such good may be,
as thy heart doth wish for thee.
Have mercy, Lord!
(Hymn 287, st. 10; TLH)