Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,..

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Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.

The Tenth Commandments warns us against sinful inner desire for taking another's worldly property. This commandment does not so much forbid actions as it forbids sinful thought and imagination. These inner forms of envy can bear offspring in terrible outward consequences.

Two terrible examples are in Genesis and in all the Gospels. The envy of man caused the first falling away from God--the fall of Adam into sin. DeicideBthe handing over of Christ to death--was likewise born from the envy of the leaders of the people, the high priests.

The Wisdom of Solomon tells us that through envy of the devil, came death into the world (2:24). Thus, envy is the child of the devil, who is the enemy of our salvation. To whomever falls into her nets, Envy will bring only the malice that bears death. Cain envied his brother, and so nurtured an extreme malice within himself, which brought about the physical death of his brother Abel and the spiritual death of Cain. One can say that envy is a two-edged sword, able to hurt both the subject and the object of the envy.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes that envy is the beginning of malice, the mother of death, the first door of sin, the root of every evil. The hierarch Basil the Great exhorts: Brethren, let us flee from envy, that intolerable evil; she is the precept of the serpent-tempter, the invention of the devil, the seed of the enemy, the pledge of God's punishment, an obstacle to pleasing God, the path to Gehenna, the loss of the Kingdom of Heaven.

And Saint John Chrysostom says that even if someone should be a very virtuous man, and even a wonderworker, but be conquered by envy, then he receives no benefit from his deeds: He who performs miracles, preserves virginity, keeps fasts, makes prostrations to the ground and in his virtues is compared with the angels, but has this deficiency (envy), he is the most miserable of men and more iniquitous than the adulterer and the fornicator and the grave-robber.

The Tenth Commandment forbids us to desire the material goods of another. And just as much it forbids us to envy the success, talents, mind, beauty or other qualities of our neighbor.

How can we overcome envy in our soul? The Old Testament indicates one means: Be not concerned about amassing wealth; leave off such thoughts--we read in the book Proverbs of Solomon (23:4).

Saint Maximus the Confessor counsels us to conquer envy in the following manner: thou canst restrain envy if thou begin to rejoice over the joys of him whom thou enviest, and sorrow with him over that which he sorroweth over, fulfilling the commandment of the Apostle: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15).

In My Life in Christ, the holy, righteous John of Kronstadt exclaims: The Lord bestowed His image and likeness... After that, what kind of earthly wealth is needful to me?

©Archpriest Victor Potapov

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