79. Q. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
80. Q. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.
81. Q. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.
“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 is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 ESV)
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5 ESV)
Throughout our study of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) we have made a concerted effort to understand the true intent and the goal of the commandment. That is, our study of the Decalogue taught us not only to think about our outward behavior, but also our hidden thoughts and desires that God sees. The ultimate goal of the Decalogue, after all, is not to give us something to boast before man, but to reveal our standing before God. And once we measure ourselves against the standard of holiness revealed in the Decalogue, we realize what miserable sinners we are.
But throughout our study of the Decalogue, we have also remembered the God who spoke the commandments is also the Redeemer who sits on the Mercy Seat. Thus our study has always brought us to Jesus Christ, in whom all of Law’s righteous demands are satisfied in us. In other words, we cannot study the Decalogue rightly unless we think about our sinful hearts, and because of that, our study of God’s Law is never complete until we turn to Christ in whom there is no condemnation, and who gives us the gift of perfect righteousness.
The Tenth Commandment once again calls us to look at our heart, and to Jesus Christ. The Tenth Commandment forbids coveting, and requires contentment. The problem, of course, is that covetousness is often well-hidden, and it does not always expose itself in theft (Eighth Commandment). By the time theft actually takes place, whether of property or persons (e.g. adultery is stealing another’s spouse), the sin of covetousness has long dwelt in the heart. But not acting on our covetousness does not make us holy. Contentment makes us holy.
Contentment is really confidence. When we are confident that God is leading us well, not only during good times but also during hard times, then we can celebrate and worship in all circumstances. But the moment we stop trusting God is leading us well, then we will crave what other people have. Contentment is about trusting God.
Contentment is not the same thing as being stagnant. If we are able through godly means to advance ourselves in some way, we ought to strive towards it. But be sure that you are seeking an advancement in order to serve Christ better. We can deceive ourselves so easily.
Contentment is about Jesus Christ. It is to rest in his sovereign and gracious provision. It means trusting the Savior who gave his life for us will lead us astray. It is to seek better things, opportunities, only so that we may serve Christ better. Are you content? That is, is Jesus your Shepherd and King?