The last of the Ten Commandments is a list of items which we are prohibited from coveting: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Viewed from the perspective of the 21st century some of the items listed seem a little anachronistic, nevertheless the principle enshrined in the commandment is hugely relevant to contemporary living.
While the mantra, ‘greed is good’ dominated the 80s and 90s, the driving force in the lives of many of today’s citizens is consumerism. Defined as, ‘the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods’, consumerism, according to the American writer April Witt, “was the triumphant winner of the ideological wars of the 20h century, beating out both religion and politics as the path millions…. follow to find purpose meaning, order, and transcendent exaltation in their lives”.
There is no doubt that consumerism fuelled by incessant advertising creates and fosters the desire to covet in many individuals. According to experts the average Scot is exposed to between 500 and 3,000 items of advertising per day, all of which are designed to create discontent in each individual.
Blogger Paul Steinbrueck has written very perceptively about the ‘4 lies of consumerism’ which he lists as:
· My ‘stuff’ makes me happy
· My ‘stuff’ makes me important
· My ‘stuff’ makes me secure
· My ‘stuff’ makes me rich
As a 63 year old born again Christian, consumerism and material gain have little meaning for me because with Christ Jesus as my Saviour, I am already rich beyond measure.
In the Bible, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Living in a state of contentment is good for your health and wellbeing.