What matters the most: Whereas several of the commandments of God prohibit certain actions, such as murder and theft, covetousness is one of the commandments that address the inner person, his heart and mind. The inner person is where sin originates, and in this case, covetousness is the forerunner of all manner of sin, among them theft, burglary, and embezzlement.
The big picture: At its root, coveting is the result of envy, a sin which, once it takes root in the heart, leads to worse sins. Jesus reiterated this very thought in the Jesus Manifesto [Sermon on the Mount] when He said that lust in the heart is every bit as sinful as committing adultery.
God’s Goal: God has our best interest at heart. God knows wanting something that isn’t ours leads to all kinds of problems. Covetousness leads to corruption of our heart. That leads to lust and adultery as one example. Covetousness is a bowl of rotten fruit. Everything that tries to grow is corrupted.
The bottom line: Envy goes beyond casting a longing glance at the neighbor’s new car. Once dwelled upon, envy of the neighbor’s possessions or his wife can turn to feelings of resentment and hatred for the neighbor himself. That can turn into resentment against God and questioning Him: “Why can’t I have what he has, Master? Don’t you love me enough to give me what I want?”
- Lust is an internal attitude driven by covetousness. Matthew 5:28 — 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:5 — 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;