Perhaps the most misunderstood of the Ten Commandments is this one: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17 NLT).
Coveting isn’t simply desiring something we don’t have. If you see something that you admire, it isn’t necessarily coveting. That simply could be admiring.
The difference between that and coveting is that you become devoured by your desire for something. Many times it is something that isn’t yours to ever have. Notice this commandment talks about your neighbor’s wife. It is not just wanting a wife; it is wanting your neighbor’s wife.
From the original language the word covet translated is also translated “to pant after something,” sort of like a wolf that has gotten a taste for blood and is pursuing his prey. That wolf will not rest until he gets that prey. That is what coveting is. You become obsessed with something. You must have it.
How does coveting work? First the eyes look at an object, the mind admires it, the will goes over to it, and then the body moves in to possess it.
Someone who may not have a lot of money might have more of a problem with coveting than a person who does. It’s all they think about. They are looking for that angle, that quick fix that will make them successful in their own eyes.
There are people who covet throughout life. They become obsessed with certain things, and they will make any sacrifice to get what they want. It may be a person. It may be an object. It may be a position. Whatever it takes, they are determined to get it. And it can destroy their lives.