by: Staci Stallings
God is so brilliant. Because I took a week off, He laid the foundation for this discussion right in my lap this morning at Sunday School.
We were talking about the 10 Commandments and how God laid them out so the most important “thing” — Him is first. Then He speaks of our relationship with eternally important “things” — other people. And way down at the bottom is the commandment about how we should relate to temporary resources in our lives.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
That’s last on the list.
We had already made a chart some weeks ago about Source (God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and Resources (Eternal = other people; Temporary = “things” like money, time, pleasure, appearance, possessions, etc.) I had already told them that when we flip that chart around and put the temporary resources FIRST, we are living upside down and that will make us miserable. When we’re miserable, it’s a good indication that we’re making the wrong things most important and the wrong “things” are often just that, temporary “things”!
So after we got all of the commandments listed on the board, I did a little experiment because after all, God listed that one last, so it can’t be that important, right?
I came up with this quick scenario. One of the girls, Em, had these cute little black and pink tennis shoes on. I told them that I LOVED Em’s shoes, and I wanted them. NO, I REALLY WANTED them!
One of the boys raised his hand and said, “So does covet mean desperate wanting?” (Boy, my kids are smart!)
Yes. That’s what it means. Wanting something so badly that reason and God go right out the window.
So I said, “Okay, if I really WANT those tennis shoes, and I’m mad because Em has them and I don’t, what other commandments might I break?”
Someone immediately went to me lying to get people to think bad of Em. At which point someone else added that would be killing her with my words. Right. What else?
Someone said I might want them so bad, I would steal them.
I said, “What if I said, I hate my parents. I don’t know WHY they won’t get me those shoes…”
“Uh, that’s disrespecting your parents…”
And because we had studied the commandments about God last week, I didn’t have them written on the board. I said, “And which commandment have I broken first and foremost?” I pointed over at our chart.
Someone said, “You put something else before God and what He would want.”
Amazing how, in breaking that last, seemingly inconsequential commandment, my life went spiraling down a well of broken commandments.
Temporary pleasure seems so easy. Sometimes it even seems like it doesn’t hurt anyone. You’ve heard people say that… “What difference does it make? It doesn’t hurt anyone.”
Don’t be so sure. Because when you give in to the ease of temporary pleasures, you set yourself up for wanting more and never being content or satisfied.
Ever wanted something so badly, and when you got it, you had it a couple days and then it kind of got lost in the shuffle? Ever been jealous of something someone else had? Ever been so envious that you thought badly of the other person or yourself?
You’re walking all over the “do not kill” commandment when you do that because as my kids today so eloquently said, “That means do not kill with your words or with a knife.” Exactly.
I would add with your thoughts as well. Just don’t go there.
So, once again, Casting Crowns hits this nail on the head. Temporary pleasures can, if not put in their rightful place, be something you really need to “leave it all behind.” And if you find yourself, wanting something that’s temporary so much that it’s affecting your emotional state or your mental health or your relationships, it really is time to go to the well and get right with God, putting Him back on the throne of your heart and your life.
Until you do that, misery is not going to be an abstract concept in your life.