A Lack of Love

A Lack of Love

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
—Matthew 22:36–39

God’s Word says that nothing can satisfy your deepest needs in life other than God. So far this week we have seen that covetousness is the general desire for more, and the problem with covetousness is that it replaces our love for God.

But as we focus on the Tenth Commandment, notice the specific focus of covetousness in this passage. God says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17). You see, what God is talking about here is not just a general desire for more; it is a desire for what somebody else has. This desire for more in general replaces our love for God. But our desire for what somebody else has eclipses our love and our concern for other people. And that is God’s focus here.

Let me illustrate how the desire for what someone else has can eclipse our love and concern for others. We know that most cases of adultery occur within established friendships. The pattern goes something like this: A couple becomes friends with another couple and they socialize together. Then one mate looks at the other person’s mate and begins to think, I wish my spouse were more like so-and-so. And they begin to fantasize and say, You know, if something ever happened to my mate, that’s the kind of person I’d go after. In fact, that’s the person I am going to go after. And what begins as admiration for somebody degenerates into flirtation and finally into immorality. We all know cases where this has happened. And now two people who belong to somebody else are engaged in a sexual affair and they couldn’t care less what it’s doing to their mates, what it’s doing to their children, or what it’s doing for their witness to Christ. They don’t care because they have fallen for the myth of more. They think, There is something else that can make me happy in life. It is the desire for what somebody else has that causes them not to be concerned with the well-being of other people.

By the way, coveting what someone has isn’t limited to somebody else’s mate. Sometimes it can be related to somebody else’s position. Maybe someone you work with is higher on the company organizational chart than you are, and you think, I’d really like to have that position. So you begin doing things so that the other person fails at what they’re doing, so perhaps you can assume their position. It reveals a lack of love and concern for that person. You even see that in the church. Somebody is up front and gifted and people admire him or her. But you think, You know, they deserve to get theirs. I’d rejoice if something bad happened to them. Or if something bad does happen to them, you gloat about it. The desire for somebody else’s position reveals your lack of love.

Sometimes our desire for somebody else’s possessions shows our lack of love. People may start to view a parent or relative as an obstacle to a promised inheritance. They no longer see them for who they are but only what they will give to them. Our desire for what somebody else has not only eclipses our love for God but it reveals a lack of love for other people.

Remember the greatest commandment? Someone asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36–39). The desire for more causes us to break both of those commandments. It causes us to lose sight of God, and it reveals a lack of love for other people. That’s why this is the climactic commandment in God’s top ten.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Wanting What Other People Have,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.