The Ten Suggestions? Part 10

Dr. Gary Glanville Sermon 12 “The Ten Suggestions? Part 10” May 24, 2020

Hymn of preparation “Praise To The Lord The Almighty”

Closing Hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour”

The Ten Suggestions?

Part X

 

With the Memorial holiday quickly approaching, Roger asked his virtual personal assistant Alexa a question.  “Hey Alexa, what’s the weather going to be this weekend?”  Alexa answered:  Doesn’t matter, you live in Michigan.  You can’t go anywhere anyway until June 12th!”

Speaking of Michigan and the Memorial holiday break, we’ll be watching two things very closely over the days to come.  One, is all the people impacted by the flooding and the two dams that broke through and how we might be in mission with them.  And then two, we’ll also be watching how everyone did going up north to their cabins and cottages for the long weekend and if cases of the virus resurge at all.  And if we discover that the virus has flattened to some extent without any new cases, then maybe we can move in the direction of more personal freedoms and at least be finished with sheltering in place. 

And speaking of finishing, Bobby had just finished eating the last piece of cake when his mother walked into the kitchen.  Being very upset by what she saw, the mother said: “Why, Bobby, you ate all of the cake without even thinking of your little sister!”

“That’s not true,” said Bobby. I was thinking of her all the time. I was afraid she’d get here before I finished!”

Sometimes in life, we can act like Bobby, where we want something so badly – we don’t think through how our self-centered and sometimes selfish actions will impact others.

And, it is this idea of selfishness and self-centeredness and the selfish desire we can have without regards to anyone else, that we want to address as we finish out our series on the Ten Commandments.  Again, as with other weeks, we want to ask this very critical question – do the Ten Commandments, God’s laws for living written over 3,000 years ago, have any relevancy and application for us living today, or are the laws of God simply outdated as a thing of the past and don’t pertain to a modern world?

And why is that such a critical question to ask?  The reason, is because if God’s laws for living are outdated, then, they don’t matter anymore.  They won’t make a difference in our lives.  Who cares what they say?  However, if God’s laws for living are still relevant and practical and helpful, then we need to sit up and pay attention to their wise advice.

So, let’s look together and see what we can discover as we apply God’s Word to present day.

The Tenth Commandment is stated this way from the 20th chapter of the book of Exodus – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (v.17)

When we started this series, one of the things I told you is that the Ten Commandments are divided into two sections, with the first four laws for life relating to God (vertical in nature) and the last six relating to people (horizontal).  This tenth and last commandment of the six horizontal commandments dealing with our relationships with others, may be considered the most comprehensive or the most important of the six. For whatever may have been omitted in the other five commandments (murder, adultery, stealing, lying and honoring one’s parents), is covered under the general heading of coveting anything which belongs to your neighbor.

Now what exactly does it mean to covet something of my neighbor?  Or to ask the question a different way, what makes it so wrong to commit this act of coveting

I looked up the word covet in the Hebrew language and the word is called HAMAD. HAMAD has both a positive and a negative definition. The word can be defined as a positive desire or as an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire.  Now for something to be inordinate means it is out of order, not regulated, without restraint or moderation, it has become excessive. Therefore, to covet something means our desire has become perverted or bent from God’s original intention. It is an unlawful and unmanaged desire without a good direction.

So let’s look at a few examples of both good and bad desires so we can get a real feel for this. 

First – let’s look at when desire can be a good thing. For instance, we desire to eat food to sustain life.  We desire health, love, approval, and respect. These are all wonderful things to desire. We can even desire things we do not have yet, such as an education, or a desire to improve ourselves, or to make product improvements to develop progress in the civilized world. When the Apostle Paul spoke of spiritual gifts he said, “But earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1Cor.12:31).

And personally, I believe it is very acceptable for someone to have a desire for a home to live in, or a car for transportation, or even a wonderful spouse for loving companionship.

Where the problem comes in, is when we begin desiring our neighbor’s home, or our neighbor’s car, or our neighbor’s wonderful spouse. Coveting is more than just wishing I could have something like my neighbor’s.  It’s beyond wouldn’t it be nice if I could do this or have that. Those are dreams – and not to be confused with the act of coveting.

Coveting says – “I want this and I will get it whatever it costs me. I must have it, whatever the consequences.” Covetousness involves greed. It is a greed for power, for sex, for money, for approval, for authority, for praise, for status, and so much more. And with this greedy desire are planted seeds which may cause someone to kill, or hurt, or lie, or lust, or steal from someone else just to have this selfish desire fulfilled.

Covetousness, or a greedy selfish desire, seeks first the kingdom of things over the kingdom of God, and is a form of idolatry. How is that? Because it places a substitute before God in our hearts. When we covet, our desires put God in the back seat not the driver’s seat.  The selfish desire becomes the number one priority instead of the Lord.  We find the way to satisfy our need instead of letting God meet our needs.

Second, let’s look at when desire can be a bad thing, when it has turned sour. 

Do you remember the story of King David and Bathsheba, how he had sex with a married woman? (2 Samuel 11:1-5) Now let us keep in mind that David had six wives (Hebron) before coming to Jerusalem to be King over Israel.  While in Jerusalem, David had more wives and at least 10 concubines. (2 Sam.15:16).

So here is a man who had access to many women, yet, one particular night he sees a woman bathing down below from his balcony, the roof of his palace house, where he would walk around in the coolness of the evening. So, what does David do?  He starts thinking things and getting himself all excited to where he has to find out who she is. He finds out Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Both Eliam and Uriah were members of David’s elite royal guard called the Thirty.  These were trusted friends whom David has known for years before he became the king.  These were men who stood by David’s side on the battlefield.  So, we discover, Bathsheba is the wife of one of David’s special soldiers.

Now reason would have said, this woman is married, I cannot sin against her or her husband.  I have plenty of wives and concubines already to meet my needs, and if I want more concubines, I can do so, because I am the king. Conscience would say, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” This is a special soldier who has sworn allegiance to me.  He is a close friend.  I cannot stab this person in the back and betray them.

But lustful, selfish desire gave birth to sin. David coveted another man’s wife. David was not thankful for what he did have, he wanted what someone else had, his neighbor’s wife. David’s coveting, his unlawful desire, made him run over the rights of others, over reason, and over clear judgment. And because of this covetous act, David had to cover his tracks by having Uriah killed, the very same man who had fought for David and protected him for years.  Because of this selfish, self-centered desire to covet, David murdered, he committed adultery, he stole another man’s wife, he covered up the truth, he betrayed a friend, and he dishonored both his parents and his Lord by his ungodly actions.  And all of this happened because he broke the 10th Commandment with a perverted desire.

I remember reading a story I could not believe from the early 1990s, about a veteran from the Gulf War who came back to the Detroit area and was murdered. How did it happen?  How did he survive the Gulf War only to be killed at home?  The soldier’s wife plotted with her brother to kill the husband for the insurance money.  Can you imagine killing your spouse that you vowed to love, honor and cherish before God?  And after they were caught, they were asked why they committed murder. Their answer – the money. There was a greedy desire for money, and whatever it took, no matter what the consequences, that desire was going to be fulfilled, even if it meant running over the rights of someone else, or running over reason, or over clear judgment.

This type of negative desire is what God is referring to in the 10th commandment. With coveting, we are not so much regulating an outward act as the other five horizontal commandments (murder, adultery, stealing, lying, honoring parents), as we are regulating an inward attitude. Coveting is an inward disposition embraced by discontent to the point that an individual becomes swallowed up by selfish gain at the expense of others.

We all have heard the saying – “The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence.” Well, when we covet, things always seem better over there because we have not learned how to be content over here.

C.S. Lewis said – “The first part of coveting is comparing.” Dr. David Seamands said – “Covetousness fixes our gaze on something we do not have so that we don’t praise God for what we do have.”

Have you ever noticed how with many of the products we purchase in stores and on-line, especially in the field of electronics, that within 6 months to 1 year, that particular product gets upgraded and what you bought new is now outdated?

Some of you will remember back in the dinosaur days of 1998, just 22 years ago, the biggest TV you could buy with a picture tube was a 36” TV set.  That TV was a monster and weighed between 75 to 100 pounds.  Then, one day, this new model of TV came out called a flatscreen.  It was lighter and thinner and every year boasted of better picture quality.  TVs were no longer high definition, but ultra-high definition.  And amazingly, the flatscreen always got bigger at Christmas time and getting ready for the Super Bowl.  TVs were not just for watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy anymore, but they also became smart.  Now you had access to the internet and the latest apps on your smart phone, right on your TV. 

Beyond becoming smart, the number of pixels in TVs (sharpen image, more lifelike) went from 4K to now 8K, quadrupling their number.  We went from QLED to OLED which ties in with resolution brightness and contrast.  Now you will find TVs with nano crystals allowing for greater color accuracy and the ability to view the TV screen from the side. 

The biggest TV for general households I found for sale with the latest technology is an 88” flatscreen.  It is perfect for the bedroom if you want to be a part of the action.  At a mere $30,000, you might as well get a second one for the kitchen, so you can watch your favorite program while preparing meals or eating your bologna sandwich for lunch.

Now all of these things I’ve mentioned are improvements, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with upgrading the quality of products. But if you happen to be the type of individual who always needs the best and latest and biggest of everything, you will never have the opportunity to be content, because within a few months, somebody will invent something that is just a little bit better.

I remember in junior high school a certain group of kids always comparing everything. Clothes, cars, houses, even the watches we wore to school, and they made fun of the kids who did not have what they had.  Now think about this – what difference does it make what brand of watch somebody wears or how much it costs?  I have observed over the years that whether a watch costs $2,000, $200, or $20, they all have something in common.  They all tell the same time. Isn’t that amazing?  Now I’ll admit, one watch might look fancier than the other or have a few more features, but overall, the function is all the same. 

And yet, if we are always comparing, we will never be content, because we will always feel others have more and we’ve been shortchanged by life. 

If we never learn the art of saying thank you to the Lord for what we do have, we will never appreciate the simple things of life. 

If we never embrace the blessings we have all around us, we will always feel that life is unfair and we have been left out. 

If we never learn to see God in the midst of the struggle and the trial and the times of heartache, we will come to believe God no longer cares and has left us far behind. 

However, dear ones, I have good news for you!  Because the Christian walk is a victorious walk and God promises to never leave you and He will provide for you and He has prepared a special home for you in His kingdom that will never end.

I want you to listen to a beautiful verse of Scripture that I believe can bring hope and comfort and encouragement to the one who truly wants to walk with God and have victory, but is smart enough to know they still have a long way to go as a disciple.  The good news is, you don’t have to walk alone.  The Holy Spirit is here to help.

Philippians 1:6 tells us this – “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

To me, that is another way of saying that God is not finished with me yet, but still has some marvelous work to do in my life to help me become more like Jesus each and every day. To me it is exciting to know that God still wants to work a miracle in my life, that God is still interested in my outcome.  God wants to see me excel in my spiritual walk with Him, for God has invested too much to let me simply drift along.  God thought I was so worthy of love and a second chance at life with a new beginning that He sent His own Son to die on the cross for me.  And get this, the Lord will use everything that has happened in my life for my betterment and for my spiritual education.

You see, God isn’t finished with me yet, nor is He with you.  Meaning, He’s not through with me and He’s not through with you.  The Lord has so much more to offer and reveal to all of us.  But you and I must be willing to say yes to Him by surrendering our wills and following His will.  And I believe one way we can follow God’s will for our lives is by listening to the Ten Commandments and obeying their instructions. 

Can you imagine what this world might be like if everyone simply followed these 10 pivotal rules of life?  Oh, how truly different our world would be.

Let’s pray together.