TRANSCRIPT: Good morning, Five Minute Families. Here’s a question for you, how did you do with examining your own heart for coveting thoughts and evaluating your coveting behavior? God can and will do great and mighty things when we place our trust in Him to bring the items and relationships we need in the moment. So, as you work on that, let’s examine how you can help your whole family keep the tenth commandment.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17
Last week we defined coveting as excessively desiring something that belongs to someone else and dwelling on the wanting of it for your own. Tara Tegard of ministry-to-children.com has a more kid-friendly definition: “To covet means to want something selfishly, without caring about what others think or feel.”
For example, your child may not play with a toy for weeks, months, or even years, but as soon as a sibling plays with that toy and has fun, whoa, nelly… here comes the fight. The first child is coveting the joy that his or sibling is having with that forgotten treasure. The child may speak rudely, grab, hit, and more to get the toy back. Yes, it is an easy illustration, but it is the type of coveting we parents see every day.
Children have trouble understanding that having what someone else has does not always bring about the same happiness or joy we see them experience. We all forget too often that God owns everything, as it is said in Psalms 50:10, “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” There is enough for each of us.
As Lili from The Bottom Line said, “We want good things, for our children, for others, and for ourselves. But if we covet, we will do things, ungodly things, to attain that which we [feel we] must have. We are in danger of replacing God with that ‘thing’ we [feel we] must have.”
Thus, we must consider our family habits… does your family typically pass time by just going shopping? We are not talking about your weekly grocery store trip or back-to-school shopping. We are asking… do you shop for things to fill a void – shop for things you don’t need or maybe even only think you need? Or, perhaps on the flip side, you never let your kids have things that they desire; you operate specifically on a needs-only basis. Sometimes, financial situations may warrant that approach, and we need to be open and honest with our kids, age-appropriately of course, about the family’s financial situation, but for the most part, the reality is that life on this earth is about balance. The only things that we can never overdo are loving God, studying His word, and doing good works in His name.
And, now, here are five practical suggestions about how to help kids work through covetous thoughts and behaviors:
- Give your children chores to do – no matter how old they are. There are numerous websites out there that have age-appropriate chores. Please check them out.
- Practice talking through thankfulness and gratitude every evening with your children. Susan Rhoads points out that “The Oxford Dictionary defines the word grateful as “showing an appreciation of kindness.” This is where the difference lies; being thankful is a feeling, and being grateful is an action.”
- Encourage your child to give away some of their own ‘good condition’ items to those in need or to go shopping with you for those in need.
- Allow your child to work for desired items. Help them to see the value and rewards of hard work.
- When your child becomes upset about something that he or she cannot have, talk through whether the item will bring lasting joy. Last week Kim and I both wanted to address the concepts of happiness versus joy, but there really wasn’t adequate time. Compassion International says it this way, “Joy is an inner feeling. Happiness is an outward expression. Joy endures hardship and trials and connects with meaning and purpose. A person pursues happiness but chooses joy.”
Coveting is a tough but necessary topic to discuss; we hope it helps your families realize the importance of thinking through biblical concepts and finding useful ways to put them into practice.
We are so grateful you joined us this week. We are excited to report that this radio devotional-turned-podcast has now been heard in thirteen countries! And, we must say a big thank you to Dustin for helping us out! Thank you, Dustin!
And, to you, our listeners, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may He be gracious to you; and may He meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Amen.