“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:17 NIV
Something may be presented to us as a temptation, but a temptation does not automatically become sin unless deliberate action is taken to feed it. To covet has an all encompassing list. Whoever says they never go through this is clearly not being truthful. It’s on the Ten Commandments for the very reason that it happens to be a transgression every human being has to face as long as we have breath in us.
“Do not envy the wicked,
do not desire their company;
2 for their hearts plot violence,
and their lips talk about making trouble.”
Proverbs 24:1-2 NIV
However, it is hard to envy someone especially when we are aware of the dishonest and frankly, God-forsaken ways that people had to do to get where they are. The key word in verse two is “plot”.
When we covet something that God has not sanctioned for us to have, we heap to ourselves the curse of that transgression; destruction. Such is what happened to Achan (Joshua 7).
“Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
Joshua 7:19-21 NIV
Achan’s decision to feed his desire brought about destruction not only on himself, but on his whole family. Not only that, his hidden act also caused the Israelites’ defeat at Ai.
“The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. – Covet and envy may seem different, but similar in the regard of thirsting for ‘something’ that one is not meant to have. They are synonymous in the way that both achieve the same end of unholy feelings unfit for a follower of Jesus Christ. Believers will feel estranged from God until this issue is dealt with.