Personal Finance in the Bible: Exodus 20:17

Corey —  January 11, 2010

       “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Exodus 20:17 (WEB)

       The Tenth Commandment – you shall not covet. God warns the Israelites here against desiring things that belong to others. The interesting thing is that this is the only commandment that primarily focuses on internal sins specifically. All sin begins from within us, but coveting is something that can be very difficult for others to see. God’s teaching the Israelites they should guard their hearts against greed and envy.

       Coveting is still a major pitfall for Christians today. Whenever we desire something that’s not ours – something beyond what we have – we make ourselves susceptible to greed, envy, and discontentment. These are all things that God’s Word warns against throughout the entire Bible – not just in the Ten Commandments.

       This verse gives us at least one way we can try to avoid coveting in our lives. You’ll notice that the focus is on coveting what your neighbor has. “Your neighbor” doesn’t just mean the people you live near. It can be anyone you interact with or see. And in the case of coveting it’s anyone who has something that you want.

       So what can we do? Focus on ourselves instead of looking at what everyone else has. Count your blessings. Keep your eyes on your own situation and God’s plan for you. Don’t worry about what everyone else has – stop comparing yourself with them. Keep your heart focused on serving God and pleasing Him. By doing these things, we can guard against the envy, greed, and discontentment that always follow coveting.

       What about you? Have you struggled with coveting in the past? How did it affect you? How did you overcome it? Share your story in the comments!



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

4 responses to Personal Finance in the Bible: Exodus 20:17

  1. Sounds like the Bible tried to warn us against “keeping up with the Jones”

  2. Lakita, there’s actually a verse in Proverbs that speaks exactly to that idea. I also read a verse in Ecclesiastes yesterday that talked about how meaningless our work is when we’re doing it because we envy our neighbors (trying to keep up with or outdo them).

  3. I live by the saying, “God bless the child that has his own.” Therefore, I make it a habit not to covet. Our pastor teaches us that we are to be careful about coveting what other people have simply because you don’t know what they had to go through to get it. Too, you don’t know what they are going through to keep it.” I also live by the saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get.”
    .-= Lillie´s last blog ..What everyone should know on how to avoid a tax audit. =-.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Lillie!

    I think it’s best to avoid coveting simply because it takes our focus off of the riches we have in Christ. The amazing value of the gift God gave through His Son far outweighs any material things we can have on earth.