“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, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” — Exodus 20:17
Is it possible that the commandment to not covet is the most difficult of the Ten Commandments to keep? Maybe. Is it likely that observing this commandment more would greatly help our society? Absolutely!
To covet is the excessive desire to have or possess something. We see someone with great benefits at work, and we think that we should also have those benefits. We see someone with great health insurance, and we think that we deserve that same type of insurance as well. The working class sees retirees receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits and thinks, “hey that is something I too should undoubtedly have one day.” In the three previous sentences we can easily replace the words “should also have”, “deserve”, and “should undoubtedly have” with any form of the word entitled.
Entitlement has quite possibly turned into an epidemic. From college students believing that they are entitled to a good grade to the belief that we are entitled to government provided insurance, housing, etc. My goal in the next few paragraphs is to simply offer you some tidbits to think about in relation to this entitlement from both a government and personal level and how they really stem from being covetous. I have no scientific evidence to offer, nor do I have any grand study from academia to offer you as proof of what I am saying. I do believe though that it is an interesting perspective.
The simple desire to have things, be it a nice home, a great job, or good insurance, can be a good force in our lives. After all, working hard for something can teach us some great life lessons. The danger comes when (1) we desire that something and don’t want to do the necessary work for it, (2) we think that no matter what the circumstances may be we should have a particular item, or (3) we don’t think that we have enough of something. That is what it means to covet. It seems to be getting so bad that even an Arkansas mom sued a school because her son was cut from the basketball team(I’m sorry ma’am, but if your son really was good enough, the coach would have kept him around).
As mentioned previously, coveting is an excessive desire to have or possess something. This is basically what leads to a feeling of entitlement. The Arkansas mom wanted her son to be on the basketball team, but he was cut. The mother’s desire was so excessive that she sued the school because she believes her son is entitled to playing on the team. In college I see students who want good grades so excessively that they believe that by just doing the bare minimum they are deserving of a high grade. That is not how life works.
There are two great quotes that I love from James Madison:
“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
That right there should pretty much put the government out of the entitlement business, yet sadly, it has not. More and more we are seeing governments promise to give things to the people, and in turn more and more voters are putting them in office. Society is beginning to think that just because we want something the government should provide it. The excessive desire to receive from the government (and the excessive desire of the government to give) needs to end.
“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” — Abraham Lincoln
This metaphor from President Lincoln nails it. We all see successful people and may aspire to be like some of them, but it does not happen overnight. We must experience our own growth process, and that starts at square one. From there we can work our way up, hopefully being able to keep any coveting out of our hearts.
Thanks for stopping by!