17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
When I was 17 years old, my friend rented a very nice guitar from Long and McQuades. If I remember correctly it was an Ibanez hollow body blues guitar with the burnt ash finish and the humm-bucker pickups that made her sing like a crying fairy. She was beautiful, and at the time I don't think I'd ever held a nicer instrument. The best part about it was my friend (the renter) did not actually play the guitar, so he lent it out to all of us guitar guys. Holding this guitar was like holding a muse, I must have pumped out 15 songs on that baby. Around the time that my turn was over I was trying to figure out who to lend it to next. I turned to my friend Reg and asked "Hey man, you wanna borrow it?" I was expecting a resounding "YES!" but the answer I got shocked me. "No," he said "I think if I had it I would covet it." I took a step back. I had heard of coveting girls, oxes and donkeys, but never guitars. That was the first time I had ever really thought about what that commandment was really talking about. It wasn't so much about infidelity or ox wanting as much as it was about being to focused on material things.
In Proverbs 13:4 it says "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied."
Not coveting seems to be more than just being satisfied with what you have, it also seems that when you set your sights on God's desires the things you want will shift from material things, to more righteous things.
I have a real problem with coveting, I love that butterfly feeling I get thinking about my next purchase, or wanting to increase my lot in life. I love longing for things in the future, or planning out what I want to do with what and when. That's bad news for me, as we see in Luke when Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, in which a man spends all his time making his barns bigger so that he can store more grain for himself and be better off, and when it's finally finished his life is demanded of him. That's not to say it's wrong to have a five year plan, or that we shouldn't save money or anything like that, I think it's more of a warning against spending all of your time worrying and dreaming about things that you can't necessarily control. In Matthew 6:25-26 it says
25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important that clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
And in Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 it says
10Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 11As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?
When we trust in God to provide for us what we need, and not necessarily what we want, then we are showing him our faith, our trust and our Love. When we spend our time worrying about how to further the kingdom, and less about how to further ourselves, we are showing love to God. So remember, the commandment, being terms of service for the Christian and Jewish faith, we are not a people who covets the things of the world around us. We are a people who trust in God, and therefore show him love.