To Covet; Not to Covet

“I covet your prayers.”

I have heard this sentence uttered many times.

Then there is the Tenth Commandment:

“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

So what does to covet mean? How can I be obedient to God yet still covet someone’s prayers?

Of course, that leads me on a word study!

In the Hebrew:

חָמַד

ḥāmaḏ, châmad

to desire, take pleasure in, delight in, to delight greatly, desire greatly, to lust

From the very beginning, the word, covet, was used in different ways.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

Looking closer at this Hebrew word in the two contexts:

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:10

For He grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him
. Isaiah 53:2

Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
…. Proverbs 6:25

They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Micah 2:2

And then in the Greek:

ἐπιθυμέω

epithymeō (Key word)

to set one’s heart upon, to have a desire for, to have a longing for (especially for what is forbidden); absolutely, to desire; have a craving for; to lust after, covet, of those who seek things forbidden, to have desires opposed to a thing, to long for, covet a thing; of sexual desire; a longing

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11-12

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Where is my heart? Is it for God only? Or is it straddling the line between Heaven and the world? Or is it for the world only?

God wants things for us. Where the line is drawn is in the position of my heart and mind. They need to be rightly fixed upon the Lord. He has a plan for me. His will for me most likely includes some “things.” Whether or not there are “worldly” things, His will is what I must desire. He will provide. I am to trust Him for my needs. I should have no need to be jealous or envious of others’ things. Envy and jealousy are not to be a part of my mind nor my heart. I am to be growing in holiness as He sanctifies me. Thus, I am to be content in all I am and all I have while I walk with and near to my Christ. So when one “covets” my prayers, my love, my care, or my concern, they are desiring these for the possibility of being touched by the hand of God, for He may be using me on behalf of my brother or sister in Christ. My heart and mind need to be directed to God and not at myself, nor even to the person coveting my prayers. God is the focal point from which those prayers, that love or care is coming from and is directed by Him through me if my heart and mind are right with God.

Romans 7:4-8:2 is a long passage yet it is extremely important to what I am wishing to learn through these two meanings of covet. Plus, these verses show me how confused I can become when I lean on my own understanding. Take your time and read these verses slowly.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:4-8:2

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Romans 7: The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. … For as the believer is under grace, and his will is for the way of holiness, he sincerely delights in the law of God, and in the holiness which it demands, according to his inward man; that new man in him, which after God is created in true holiness.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. I Timothy 6:6-10

Father, guard my heart and mind that I would always be content in all of my circumstances. I want to walk in Your ways for the rest of my life, Lord. I do not desire to be jealous or envious. Please forgive me when I am. I am sorry. Teach me to love all, Lord, no matter how rich or poor. I have been given the greatest gift of all. This gift is Christ, Your Son. I have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb and have all that there is to have. He gave His all for me. I do not need to want what others have. I do not need to wish for anything but to walk in His grace for the rest of my days. I want to walk a straight and narrow path to Your heart. I want to be close to You and desire that which You desire for me. Teach me to be content. Teach me to covet that which You have already planned and prepared for me. Guard my eyes and ears, my heart and mind from things of this world. May I look, listen, love and contemplate Heavenward and that way alone. You created me and know every bit of me. You also love me, so please guard and guide me, Father, that I covet only that which You orchestrate for me. I pray that I not covet anything against Your will. In the strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Cross photo (w/”Coveting” graphic by me): WebStockReview.net

“Do Not Covet” graphic: First Baptist St. Charles

Cloud photo by Pexels (w/graphics by me) @ Pixabay

Graphic Roman 7:22-8:2 @ Desiring God/Youtube

Charles Spurgeon quote on photograph from Pinterest

One Word 2021: Decrease ~ February Connection

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

I am an East Texas resident at this time of my life. After two back-to-back harsh, cold winter storms, I have water again after 36 hours without. I only lost power very sporadically and very temporarily. Just got internet back Sunday afternoon. I see power trucks all around Lufkin. The city water is back up and just, minutes ago, got a message that calls off the city boil-water mandate. I feel extremely blessed to have what I have, and truly lost so little compared to many others. And so many are still without.

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to You, O LORD,
for though You were angry with me,
Your anger turned away,
that You might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation.”

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon His name,
make known His deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that His name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the LORD, for He has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 12:1-6

A friend sent this chapter of Isaiah to me during the week and all I could do was bow to my Lord and whisper Amen and Amen. He has kept me near, in the cleft of His rock, in the fold of His arms, in the warmth of His love, in His beautiful mercy and grace.

How can I be anything at all when He is so magnificent?

Father, thank You for sending so many (via phone, text, a knock) to check on me no matter how far or near away they live. I am so grateful for their love and care. Please watch over all of those in Texas, Oregon and everywhere else who is without power, water, food, shelter, whether it be a temporary problem or an ongoing concern. Please hold them near and provide their needs, O Lord. I ask that they will come to know Your Son, Jesus, in the midst of all they are going through. May they hear His Name and seek forgiveness, calling upon Jesus. May they know Him as their Lord and Savior. Oh, God, I pray this in Your Son’s Holy Name. I am learning every day what ‘decreasing’ means for it is a real process. In the midst of this process is just where I want to be…decreasing! Yes, I still hold onto lots of parts and pieces of me, but I desire to let go of me even if just a little bit at a time. You are my Guide, my Refuge, my Fortress. During the storm, I stayed in Your hands. You protected me. Thank You, Lord. May Jesus be ever so much while I become ever much less. May He be all of Whom I depend upon each and every day. Praising You and loving You, Lord. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Cry Baby

Jesus wept. I do not consider Him a cry baby. So what about me?

I was considered a “cry baby” most of my life. Only in my senior adult years have I accepted my vulnerability in emotionally drawn circumstances. It may be the death of someone dear, a friend being treated for cancer, a photo of one starving or a refugee camp in Yemen (seen on the news), the recent mob targeting our nation’s Capitol, a situation that just hits me square in the heart, a person coming to know the Lord, a birth of a child. Much brings me to tears. I have been that way since a child.

My dear mother, whom I had a talk with years ago about this, and have forgiven her long ago, struggled with my tears. She was a strong woman and was not prone to tears, at least not in public or around us kids. I would often be sent to my room to cry. That was her way of dealing with me, those tears running down my face. When Daddy died, I was a month from turning thirteen. When I asked if I could go to his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, her answer was, “Yes, if you won’t cry.” Well, I knew I would cry because I loved Daddy dearly, so I did not go to his funeral. To this day, when I see a caisson on the news or in a photo, I tear up, knowing I missed that extremely special moment of closure of Daddy’s life. Yes, I have been to his grave a number of times and mourn my loss. My mother’s body is buried in his grave now too. And, yes, I cry every time. I miss them both.

Tears are not a bad thing in my purview. I cry and usually feel relieved, worn out, loved, or a number of other outcomes. These water droplets running down my face from those tiny ducts at the edge of my eyes were a gift from God! God made those tear ducts. God created tears.

κλαίω

klaiō

  1. to mourn, weep, lament
    1. weeping as the sign of pain and grief for the thing signified (i.e. for the pain and grief)
    2. of those who mourn for the dead
  2. to weep for, mourn for, bewail, sob for one

And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44

Jesus wept because:

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke: Jerusalem has not improved the day of her opportunities. He wept, and said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, if thou wouldst but yet know, while the gospel is preached to thee, and salvation offered thee by it; if thou wouldest at length bethink thyself, and understand the things that belong to thy peace, the making of thy peace with God, and the securing of thine own spiritual and eternal welfare-but thou dost not know the day of thy visitation, v.44. The manner of speaking is abrupt: If thou hadst known! O that thou hadst, so some take it; like that O that my people had hearkened unto me. How happy had it been for thee! Or, “If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have wept for thyself, and I should have no occasion to weep for thee, but should have rejoiced rather.” What he says lays all the blame of Jerusalem’s impending ruin upon herself. 

Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! Psalm 81:13

At eight days of age, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to be circumcised, as was the Jewish custom. When they entered the temple, Simeon and Anna recognized Him as the Messiah. (See my post of 12/2020 – For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation). Now, more than thirty years later, Jesus entered to be crucified. He was not recognized as the Messiah. “Jesus grieved for a people who would not know peace. Jesus grieved for the city that would pay for its spiritual blindness with destruction. Holy grieves.” *

In Luke 6:21, the same Greek word is used in one of the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21b

Jesus is reminding us that tears do indeed turn to joy at some point.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:4-6

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:13

Jesus also wept as He met the sisters of Lazurus, who had died. From the Greek word used in this instance, the tears were most likely silent, running down the cheeks of Jesus, our Lord:

δακρύω

dakryō

to weep, shed tears, silently

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:32-35

from The Commentary on John by John Calvin: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.” …. “The example of Christ ought to be sufficient of itself for setting aside the unbending sternness which the Stoics demand; for whence ought we to look for the rule of supreme perfection but from Christ? We ought rather to endeavor to correct and subdue that obstinacy which pervades our affections on account of the sin of Adam, and, in so doing, to follow Christ as our leader, that He may bring us into subjection. Thus Paul does not demand from us hardened stupidity, but enjoins us to observe moderation in our mourning, that we may not abandon ourselves to grief, like unbelievers who have no hope for even Christ took our affections into Himself, that by His power we may subdue every thing in them that is sinful.”

In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Hebrews 5:7

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. I Thessalonians 4:13

“Never weakness to grieve where God is grieving.” *

“No one understood God’s goodness and control more than Jesus, and He still wept. Which means we can too.” *

Do my tears make me less of a person? Weak? Once I felt that they did. I was made to think I was by the actions and words of others. Kids called me “cry baby” because I did. Those two little words hurt. They diminished me. At least I thought they did. I did not have much confidence in myself. I did not think I was very capable of doing various things. I did not believe I could stand up for myself either. I was weak, so I thought. As life moved along, I carried that with me and even as an adult, I allowed injury to my heart due to feeling inferior in so many ways. Many of the teen boys and later adult men treated me as inferior. Not all, I admit. Not all. But enough to keep me thwarted.

But then I met Kenneth who introduced me to Jesus. Jesus showed me His heart through Kenneth. Kenneth and I married. We were each forty-five years of age. I never knew this love from Heaven before. I never knew I could be me and still be loved. Jesus treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth and I were married for twenty-five years. He died of cancer June, 2018…just the other day…yet seems like forever ago! I have a Husband. His Name is Jesus. He is with me.

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.
Isaiah 54:5

I know I can cry and be loved unconditionally. I can weep anytime of day or night and still be loved. I am no longer called a “cry baby.”

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5b

You have kept count of my wanderings;
put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8

Oh sweet Jesus, I love You so. You draw me near as You grow me to be more and more in Your likeness. I am grateful that You took on my flesh so that I can see You be a me, see You weep, see You laugh and love. Growing in You is about reading Your Word and seeing You in that beautiful Book walking, talking, being a human while being God at the same time. I am so grateful that You love me so that You have taken my sinful self and nailed it on that awful Cross. I am sorry You had to go through that for me, others such as me. May we each look to You and know that we are made perfectly in the image of God. One day…that beautiful day…we will see You face-to-face and know…know just how much You love us. In Your Glorious Name, I pray. Amen.

Tearful eye photo

*quotes from “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem drawing

Jesus Wept photo with graphics: http://www.firstchurches.org/we-who-must-die/