XI. The Tenth Commandment: Q & A 79-81
Q. 79 Which is the tenth commandment?
A. 79 The tenth commandment is, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, or his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Ex. 20:17. Moses put a slight difference on this command in Deuteronomy, placing the wife first then the desiring of a neighbour’s house, or his field – Dt. 5:21.
Q. 80 What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. 80 The tenth commandment requires full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.
Biblically speaking, not only does the husband own his wife, but the wife also owns her husband (I Cor. 7:4 Cf. Heb. 13:4). The language here is simply the same as elsewhere, in that the masculine is understood to refer to both sexes. The scope of this commandment is everything which belongs to one’s neighbour. There is no part of personal or business life that is exempt. Positively speaking, this command involves seeking our neighbours good, ensuring that all that is his remains his, that we seek their good (I Cor. 10:24). Rejoicing with those who rejoice, even as we weep with those who weep a loss (Rom. 12:15).
Q. 81 What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. 81 The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.
This commandment also includes one’s speech concerning one’s neighbour. It is a prohibition against murmuring (I Cor. 10:10). We must lay aside all envy and evil speaking (I Pet. 2:1; Js. 3:16). It includes all of our thoughts and our conduct. “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’” (Heb. 13:5). The opposite of covetousness is contentment in the providence of God, in God himself.