The basis on which greed has been raised to a form of Art
".......do not covet that which belongs to your neighbour........"
Once there were two men, a rabbi and a rich- rather stingy- man.
Both were looking outside through a window to the people in the street.
"What do you see?", asked the rabbi.
The the rabbi put a mirror in front of the man.
"What do you see now?"
"The window and the mirror are both made of glass", explained the rabbi.
"But the mirror is glass with a thin layer of silver behind it. When silver is added to the glass, you don't see the other people anymore, but only yourself. That's how it is more often in life : as soon as silver comes into play, we only see ourselves, we only have our own interests at heart."
The story of the rabbi and the rich man illustrates God's call in the Tenth Commandment: Concentrating on the silver can make us lose sight of the other.
While the danger looms large that while losing sight of the neighbour, we keep focusing on what he has and we don't.
We know ''the grass is always greener on the other side phenomenon" which is directly related to this. It is a breeding ground for an ever increasing dissatisfaction with what we have, who we are etc.
Which in turn is going to have a deep and lasting effect on our relationships. etc. etc.
Is the tenth commandment against all longing, all wants? No, certainly not, writes past professor Jochem Douma in his 'Ethical Thoughts on the Ten Commandments'.
"our natural longings are not sinful, are not wrong".
The Bible teaches that we may long for a lifepartner, children, a better position or job. Consumerism does not have to be wrong in itself, although it has gotten that rap. Without our wants and longings for something there is no economic growth. And economic growth as such is not wrong. The social development of a country, better education, better healthcare is unthinkable without economic growth.
The Ten Commandments in general and the last one in particular deal with an aspect of our wants and wishes that we have come to recognize earlier as a form of idolatry and enslavement. The issue here is becoming enslaved to your wants. Having your wants raised on a platform to reign over all other things.
In fact you are then serving a different god and all other things have to become subservient. Common sense is easily lost . Children often have a hard time with this and we may consider it a sign of immaturity in adults and the logical consequences can be devastating.
The attitude towards work changes : work becomes a necessary evil to get the money to finance the slavemaster . Not only will there be an attitude change at work, but at home too.
Whatever happens , the wants need financing, either through loans or credit cards, or through more time at work.
And family life and other social relationships slowly fall victim to the greeds and wants that are now running the show.
In the tenth we are revisiting among others the eighth commandment, except here it is taken one step further: the mindset is condemned. And we already know why : because it destroys our ability to properly see our neighbour, properly value our relationships.
Always remember : the Law is good. Observing the commandments makes life possible, it enables us and brings out the best in us.
As we know: there is a structure of reality that makes life possible. It why we can breathe the air we breathe, do the things we do, enjoy relationships, build houses and churches.
But there is also a structure for reality. That is what the Ten Words are all about. We are given the basic structure upon which we can create shalom, a foretaste of things to come.
In this we have a choice.
Not so with the structure of reality : Not obeying the laws of gravity has immediate consequences.
With structure for reality, disobedience will result in reality continuing in a damaged way: damaged relationships, damaged environments, etc.
The end result is always the same: the utter failing of creation as we know it.