Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 10th Commandment Meets the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Steps

The summer I turned 16 Susie became my girlfriend. She was a wonderful person but I have to admit that one of the reasons that I wanted her to become my girlfriend was that two of my friends were also courting her. When she settled for me - and it was settling - I exulted in my victory.

Those competitive feelings are not at all surprising. We live in a society which might be said to be based on violating the Tenth Commandment - thou shall not covet. Most advertising tries to get us to want something that someone else has, something that will make our lives, if not perfect, a lot better. And it's not only things that we covet. I find myself wishing that I had that person's good looks - these days it's often that person's head of hair - or that person's talents. or that person's prayer life, or that person's reputation.

That kind of wishing, that covetousness is deadly. It saps my energy and it keeps me from seeing how many and wonderful blessings I have received. It keeps me from recognizing that I have enough. When Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, calls us to a deeper righteousness, the righteousness of not committing adultery in our hearts, he is calling to overcome covetousness, to stop looking at the blessings that other's have and wanting them and start looking at the blessings that we have received.

But how am I to do that? Certainly not by any ability of my own. But when I can admit that I am powerless over covetousness and that my life is unmanageable, when I can believe that God's power can restore me to sanity, and when I can turn my life over to God, a miracle happens. I stop thinking that if I had...whatever, life would be perfect. God empowers me to see myself and others around me as God sees us, as beloved and blessed children of God, and to know that I have enough.