eMeditation on the Bible 


Question: What is unique about the tenth commandment: ďDo not desire to possess what belongs to another personĒ?  


General Principles 

The first nine of the Ten Commandments focus on outward behavior (worshiping and honoring God, and not killing, stealing, breaking promises, making false statements, etc.). In contrast, the tenth commandment focuses on inner attitudes. The first nine refer to things that people do while the tenth commandment refers to the condition of the heart


The Bible teaches that human behavior is the product of inner thoughts and feelings; including fears and desires. Although the tenth commandment focuses on how desires can lead to wrong actions, fears can also motive people to act in dishonorable ways. Therefore, the central principle of the tenth commandment is: proper behavior begins with self-awareness and self-regulation of inner attitudes, thoughts and feelings.  


One of the most dangerous attitudes that can grow inside a person is a desire that becomes so strong the person is willing to do anything to satisfy it, including actions that harm the fabric of society and diminish the well-being of others. Such a desire can become an obsession and control a personís life. The object of the desire can begin to seem absolutely necessary for the personís happiness. The person becomes willing to do anything, violating any prohibition in order to fulfill the desire. Even when such a desire does not lead to wrong behaviors, it must be removed from the heart because it is like a weed in a garden: it threatens a personís spiritual health just as weeds threaten the good flowers.  


Personal Application 

God has given us all the good things of life to enjoy. Wanting to experience the joys of living in Godís good world is not wrong. Desires are a good aspect of how God created us. Having and pursuing desires is right. The problem comes when we are blinded by a self-centered desire so that we no longer live in an attitude of solidarity and sharing with our community. When this happens, we stop viewing those around us as neighbors, but as rivals with whom we are in competition to satisfy our desires. Envy and jealousy replace the cooperation of social harmony. We must never allow our desires to result in loving certain things more than we love people and desire their happiness and well-being. 


Respond by Growing 

Recognize that all the good things in your life are gifts from God. Develop an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude to God for your privileges, opportunities, achievements, honors and possessions. Within this context, seek to obtain what you desire with the understanding that the outcome of your effort is in Godís hands. Be willing to accept Godís plan for your life and to be satisfied with Godís generosity and kindness to you without demanding more than what God has provided. God knows what is best. God can be trusted to give you everything that you need for full well-being. Thus, as you seek the good things of life, be content with God blessings.