New City Catechism 12.2

Question 12: What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?

Answer: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.

While the first nine commandments forbid outward actions, the tenth commandment alone, which forbids coveting our neighbor’s wife and property (Exod. 20:17), addresses inward desires of the heart. Not only must we refrain from sinning against our neighbors, but we must also not leave any space in our hearts for sinful desires to roam. Sin must be put to death at its root, which is the desire that springs up in our hearts (James 1:13-15).

The catechism draws out the positive implication of the tenth commandment, which is contentment in all that God has given us. Envy and resentment toward what others have is a subtle form of accusing God for holding out on us. It is a betrayal of gratitude, which is what we owe to God in all situations (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. What are the three commands Paul gives in these three verses? How can we obey these commands in our own lives?


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