Covetousness and the Ten Commandments (Part 1)
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:10). Let it be observed that money is not the root of all evil. Additionally, the love of money is not the root of all evil. What does the Bible actually say? "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

Money, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. It all depends upon how one uses it. However, when one loves money, problems will result. But why is the love of money such a detestable sin? How is it a root of so much evil? Well, let's consider the bigger picture. Isn't the love of money a form of covetousness? Indeed it is. The love of money is an illicit desire. It is a work of the flesh. It is a type of lust.

God's word warns us in Hebrews 13:5 - "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" If we, as Christians, are content, we will not have a problem with covetousness (or the love of money). If we are content, we will trust the Lord! He will never leave us, which means He will take care of us as long as we seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33)! Why should a child of God be covetous when the Lord Himself promises to always be there for His faithful ones? What sense does it make to be a lover of money if the Lord is here for us? Can money take care of us like God can? Can money offer the stability that God can? Can money save our souls like God can? To ask is to answer these questions.

It is my belief that the Ten Commandments, given by God to the Israelite nation under the Old Testament, are all connected--in one way or another--to the concept of covetousness. This may seem like a bold claim when one first considers it. However, this thought should not be surprising to us based upon what we read from I Timothy 6:10. If covetousness is a root of all kinds of evil, then we should not be surprised to see covetousness as a fundamental problem or underlying cause of many other sins. We will endeavor to elaborate upon these connections between covetousness and the Ten Commandments in this series of lessons. We will consider each commandment in its order given in Exodus 20.

In Exodus 20:3, God stated - "You shall have no other gods before Me." Because of covetousness, however, men often put things before God. Whatever is most important to you in your life is your god. Your chief priority in life is the thing or being that you worship. Some, who know that they should worship God alone, attempt to give homage to materialism also because of a covetous spirit which they possess (or, more accurately, a disposition which possesses them!). Jesus highlighted the foolishness of such an approach in Matthew 6:24 - "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Exodus 20:4 affirms a directive related to the first commandment - "You shall not make for yourself a carved image" (i.e., an idol). Israel often had trouble with idolatry. In fact, Aaron was making a golden calf for the nation while this command was being written down (cf. Exo. 32). Colossians 3:5 shows a clear connection between idolatry and covetousness - "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." Idolatry does not always manifest itself in a visible form today (i.e., with a molded image), but this does not mean the sin no longer exists. When a person has a covetous spirit, he or she will worship something other than Jehovah (or, at the very least, have a divided loyalty to God; cf. Matt. 13:22).

We will continue studying this theme in our next lesson.