You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s House

Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan 1997
Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan 1997 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Scripture:

Exodus 20:17

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house [..]

According to Luther’s Small Catechism:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.

What does this mean?–Answer.

We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of [justice and] right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Two parts

I. Purification of the Heart

 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.311 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty

II. The Battle for Purity

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.


This is very similar to the tenth commandment, the difference is this covet is referring to tangible earthly possessions, and the tenth has to deal with relationships. They could definitely be combined, in the case of Christianity outside of Catholicism and Lutherism, but for the sake of my own particular background, I am keeping them separate.

Do not covet your neighbors house. In other words, do not covet any possessions that you do not have. God has graciously given us all what we need to do His will, and more. All of our earthly possessions are only earthly possessions, once we die our physical death, we no longer have ownership over those goods. We can no longer receive whatever benefits they may have given us.

Covet can sometimes be a tricky word. Here is what the dictionary says about the word:

covet |ˈkəvət|

verb ( covets, coveting , coveted ) [ with obj. ]

yearn to possess or have (something): the president-elect covets time for exercise and fishing | (as adj. coveted) : he won the coveted Booker Prize for fiction.

And yearn:

yearn |yərn|

verb [ no obj. ]

have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from: she yearned for a glimpse of him | some people yearn for a return to monarchy | [ with infinitive ] : they yearned to go home.

• archaic be filled with compassion or warm feeling: no fellow spirit yearned toward her.

When we covet our neighbors possessions, we have an intense feeling of need for it. What is something you covet? (Maybe it’s more money, better insurance/healthcare, house, car, etc) The biggest problem of coveting, is not that we want something we don’t have. After all God knows there is stuff that we don’t have, and He even asks us to ask Him in prayer for that stuff. The problem with coveting we put our covet in front of God. We start to covet so much, we loose touch with God. Ultimately breaking the first commandment.

The second problem is this: I heard this analogy the other day, with the purpose of teaching us God’s plan for us and I feel it can be used for coveting as well. A pastor and his family went to a Bobcats basketball game(Michael Jordan owns this team). He was given court side seats. Before the game started Michael Jordan walked by his family, he was amazed and bent down to tell his son. His son’s reply was “Can we go get popcorn dad?” The point is we get caught up in the things we don’t have, that we don’t see the great things in front of us. In the pastors kids case, it was Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever play the game.

My question to leave you with is, what is the popcorn in your life?


Ten Commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Have No Other gods
  2. Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord, Thy God, in vain.
  3. Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy
  4. Honor Your Father and Mother
  5. Thou shalt not kill.
  6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  7. Thou shalt not steal.
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his. 

Memory Verse of the Week:

Ecclesiastics 7:18

It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes].


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5 thoughts on “You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s House

  1. (Hello) ( do you know the origin of hello means ‘Holy thou’ ?! : ) I searched, today, only for the definition of ‘yearn’ .. and your blog post from March 2012 came up following further searching the phrase: “no fellow spirit yearned toward her”. Within your submitted -here- it was of solace for me to read the humbling : ) – “Thank you God, for giving me time to grow in you.. so that when .. (i may have a partner) – I may be strong” (paraphrased). …”If there is something you desire (or ‘yearn for’).. ..”give it to God. Seek Him and his wisdom. Pray about it and, ..never stop” : ) Yes ! – Joshua, as well, i visited other parts of your blog and at Proverbs, the message, ‘The Magic of God’ was wonderfully stated. “The magic ..i believe in, is the magic of the belief of a greater good beyond (one self) .. It seems, that would be easy to believe in, but we ..can falter it seems and feel despairing. -It all meant a lot to me to read today – Thank you . – I wish you are very well –

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