We finished up our series on the Ten Commandments in Catechism last night by talking about commandments 9 and 10. Don’t covet. It sounds pretty easy, but the truth is that these two commands run completely contrary to our American way of life.
We wrote two words on the board: “NEED” on one side, and “WANT” on the other. The students were able to come up with the list of things that we need pretty easily. We need food, water, clothing, and shelter. That’s pretty simple.
Then I showed them a bunch of images from advertisements. What do rainbows have to do with a cell phone? What does surfing and kissing have to do with a pair of blue jeans? We explored the idea that our economy is built upon the fact that advertisers have to convince you that you actually need that new pair of jeans in order to be happy, have friends, and find romance in your life.
In other words, you have to covet in order to play this game in our society.
Jesus had different ideas about these things. In Matthew 6:19-34 he encouraged us to not worry about what we will eat or what we will wear, but to “store up treasures in heaven.”
This goes perfectly with our sermon series Loving Generously. Last week we talked about how we, in the middle-class, have far more than we actually need. Rather than store it up and keep getting more for me, me, me, why don’t we listen to what Jesus said to the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22 and sell it all and give the money to those who actually need it. Then, Jesus said, we might be free to actually start living.
The key word to this is contentment. Think about your own needs right now. Chances are, you have everything that you actually need (probably way more than you need, or know what to do with). Are you thankful and satisfied with it? Are you willing to let it go?
Give thanks right now for what you have. Ask God to show you ways that you could share your excess with someone who struggles to meet their needs today.