This Week’s Catechism – 7/21

Doctrinal Standard WSC #79 & 80

  • Q. What is the tenth commandment?
  • A. The tenth commandment is: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
  • A. What does the tenth commandment require?
  • Q. The tenth commandment requires us to be completely satisfied with our own status in life and to have a proper, loving attitude toward others and their possessions.

Memory Verse(s)

  • Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Romans 8:26-30
  • Support Passages: Exodus 20:17; Hebrews 13:5; 1 Timothy 6:6; Job 31:29; Romans 12:15; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Bible Story: Job 1:13-22


  • “It would not be inaccurate to say that coveting is the root of all other sin. James says, ‘every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts [or covetous desire] and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death’ (James 1:14-15). So, as Paul says, a ‘covetous man… is an idolater’ (Eph. 5:5). Or in other words, if the sinful desire is there, then there is already a violation of all the other commandments at least in principle. Thus some have held that the first beginning of sin in Adam and Eve was covetousness (the sinful desire to eat the forbidden fruit). Then, when this desire was expressed outwardly, there was a simultaneous violation of all other nine commandments.
  • But why does this commandment speak of such common possessions (house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, or ass) if it has such far-reaching implications? The answer is this: covetousness begins with a dissatisfied heart. It begins when we compare our own situation with that of another who has (or appears to have) more than we do! ‘Take heed,’ said Jesus, ‘… for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth’ (Luke 12:15). Let a man once become dissatisfied with the portion God has given him, and he will then be tempted with a thousand other sins. And it can hardly be denied that this a besetting sin today. We are constantly stimulated, by television, by advertisement, by easy credit plans, and so forth, to feel that we must have something newer, and bigger, and better! The ‘good life’ is pictured as belonging to those wgi have everything. How different the thought expressed by the Apostle Paul. ‘ I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need’ (Phil. 4:11-12). This, then is the biblical requirement: full contentment with what God has given us.
  • This does not mean that we should make no effort to improve our wealth and outward estate. The Bible says, ‘he becometh poor that dealth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich’ (Prov. 10:4). Scripture teaches us that God has given us abilities that we ought to use diligently. God also gives us the opportunities that come to us to use our abilities. It is therefore our duty to us both our abilities and opportunities fruitfully. But we must at the same time be content with the limits of both our ability and opportunity. And we are not to grieve when someone else is enabled to advance beyond what we are able (Gal. 5:26; James 3:14, 16). There is a sense, in other words, in which men are not created equal. God himself gives more to one than to another. And it is our duty to accept our place as God ordains with humble and thankful hearts.” [1]

Discussion Questions

  • What is the Tenth Commandment?
  • What does the Tenth Commandment require?
  • What does it mean to be content? How does this relate to the Tenth Commandment?
  • Explain the difference for wanting (working for) something better and covetousness.
  • Read Phil. 4:11-12 regarding contentment in Paul’s life. Discuss if you are content with your life.
  • What does covetousness and contentment reveal about our heart and appreciation towards God?
  • Discuss the statement, “coveting is the root of all other sin.”

[1] Williamson, C.I. (2003). The Westminster Shorter Catechism – 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, USA; P&R Publishing Company.

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