Counsel of Chalcedon
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Law and Liberation: The Tenth Commandment

To covet is evil. To covet is good. Both statements are true but they require qualification in terms of the object coveted. To covet is to earnestly desire something with such affection that satisfaction is obtained only with the actual possession of the object so desired. If the particular object is someone else's property and not for sale, nor obtainable in a way that is in keeping with the Law of God, coveting it is evil. If the object is available and it may be acquired by honest means in accordance with the Law of God, coveting it is good. The tenth commandment forbids evil coveting as do most of the references in scripture to coveting. But there is such a thing as good coveting. In Habakkuk 2:9 the prophet declares: 'Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house..." The implication is clearly that there is a good covetousness and this is borne out by the apostle Paul's use of the term in I Corinthians 12:31 where he says: "But covet earnestly the best gifts." In the same epistle he states: "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy..."(1 Cor. 14:39).