What Does Covet Mean in the Bible?

By Bill Welch – July 18, 2022 – Reading Time: 6 minutes


Covetousness, or the act of coveting, is a sin that is often overlooked. It is the 10th Commandment, which makes it easy to dismiss as less important than the others. However, understanding the true meaning of coveting and its consequences is essential for living a righteous life.

A Closer Look at the 10th Commandment

The 10th Commandment, found in Exodus 20:17, forbids coveting your neighbor’s possessions, including their house, spouse, servants, and belongings. While these examples may seem outdated, the concept of coveting extends beyond material possessions. In modern times, coveting can manifest as a desire for someone’s financial success, job, car, or even their social media followers.

Coveting, in itself, is not inherently wrong. In Matthew 6:32, Jesus acknowledges that we have physical needs that God provides for. However, we must be cautious not to develop an unhealthy and all-consuming desire for material things, which can replace our reliance on God.

Coveting in Today’s Society

In today’s affluent and image-driven society, coveting has become even more prevalent. The omnipresence of materialistic messages through digital media exposes us to constant temptations. This can lead to a dangerous mindset of discontentment, where we believe that our lives would be better if we had what someone else possesses.

The Seriousness of Covetousness

Covetousness should not be taken lightly. The apostle Paul considers it a grave sin, as he lists covetousness alongside sexual immorality, uncleanness, passion, and evil desire (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5). Paul even states that a covetous person cannot inherit God’s Kingdom, emphasizing the severity of this sin.

Paul’s statement that covetousness is idolatry sheds light on why it is so serious. When we prioritize our desire for things above our commitment to God, we engage in idolatrous behavior. Coveting can corrupt our trust in God as our provider, undermining our faith and relationship with Him.

How to Avoid Covetousness

Overcoming covetousness requires intentional effort and a shift in mindset. Here are three steps we can take to avoid falling into the trap of coveting:

1. Overcome covetousness by being more thankful and patient

Coveting stems from ingratitude and an unthankful mind. Developing a spirit of gratitude and patience allows us to be content with what we have. Patience helps us defer gratification and recognize that good things take time and hard work. It is a virtue that we should regularly pray for.

2. Overcome covetousness by aligning our priorities with God’s

God wants us to prioritize our spiritual needs and the growth of righteous character above our physical desires. By seeking His Kingdom first, we can trust that He will provide for our needs. Coveting distorts our priorities, leading us to prioritize material possessions over our relationship with God.

3. Overcome covetousness by becoming balanced and productive

Finding balance in our lives is crucial. Recognize your talents and limitations, and focus on being productive. Hard work and discipline will allow us to enjoy the blessings that come our way while ensuring financial stability. Instead of wasting time coveting what others have, invest your energy in pursuing your goals and relying on God’s provision.


Covetousness is a sin that we should take seriously. Understanding its true meaning and consequences will help us avoid its traps. By cultivating gratitude, aligning our priorities with God’s, and striving for balance and productivity, we can overcome covetousness and live a content and faithful life. Remember, true happiness lies in finding contentment in God’s provisions.

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