“Coveting or True and Lasting Hope?”
First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (First Sunday in Advent ~ November 27, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Coveting or True and Lasting Hope?”
Exodus 20:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, the season in which we wait and prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ. “Hope” is the theme for this First Sunday in Advent. In other words, Advent invites us to live in hope; to hold onto our hope and eventually to be a people of hope.
It’s so sad to see how our culture has commercialized and secularized this time of the year, so instead of preparing our hearts to celebrate the gift of Jesus, we keep ourselves busy with everything but what prepares our hearts to celebrate the God who appeared in flesh.
It happened that the First Sunday in Advent is also the Sunday we are wrapping up our sermon series on the Ten Commandments, a series that we started back in September. We have worked our way through each of the commandments, seeing how each one applies to us today, and this morning we come to the tenth and final commandment, “You shall not covet.”
I find it fascinating that on this very first Sunday in our Advent journey God is calling us to stop coveting and start hoping for what is true, what is lasting, what is pure and what is right. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female slave, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” said the Lord God in Exodus 20:17. Two observations as we reflect on the Tenth Commandment, and as we enter together this Season of Advent:
First: Guard Your Heart against Coveting
The Tenth Commandment calls us to control our desires, our wants. One of our problems as human beings is that we are constantly craving for more. No matter how much we have, it is never enough. As soon as you reach one level, you are eager for the next. In the Book of Ecclesiastes 5:10, the Lord said, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
It's true that the Tenth Commandment prohibits us from desiring what rightfully belongs to someone else whether this is a house or a land, a neighbor’s wife or a neighbor’s servant. It gets very specific; you shall not desire anything that belongs to your neighbor. But it also means you shall not desire something excessively. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “covet” here means “to desire excessively, to long for or lust after something. The command “You shall not covet” therefore means not only that you shall not desire something that belongs to someone else, but you shall not desire something excessively either. In Psalm 73, the psalmist says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
Second: A Covetous Heart will Never Be Satisfied
As I mentioned, a covetous person is constantly craving for more. But the real tragedy is their heart will never be satisfied. They are always dissatisfied with life. How can you be happy if you are always wanting more? Psalm 112:10, reminds us “The longings of the wicked will come to nothing.”
It was saint Augustine of Hippo who said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” The thirst for God in the human heart is only quenched by Christ’s dwelling in our hearts. Every human heart yearns for this authentic joy and satisfaction and these are found only in God.
Friends, Advent comes to challenge us to examine our hearts. Are we coveting more of the things of this world or holding onto the true and lasting hope of our God? Today we are encouraged to remember the hope we have in Christ. Romans 5:5 states that our hope in Christ doesn’t put us to shame. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16 saying, “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” In hope, our lives will be renewed.
The Tenth Commandment teaches us to consider our internal desires. What are they driving us to think about and prioritize? Are we endlessly craving the success and goods of others? Or do they lead us to a quiet contentment in the blessings of communion with Christ? The antidote to a covetous heart is finding in Christ a superior satisfaction. Then, from a place of personal contentment, we can rejoice in the blessings God pours out upon our neighbors. Each Advent we have the opportunity renew a vow: to wait for our God and to place our hope in Him. To vow to work, to be the Christ’s light for our neighbor, and to make our world a better place and as we follow the way of Christ, we shine Christ’s light into the darkness. Thanks be to God. Amen.
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