As Abraham Lincoln paced the floor amid the crying of his two young sons, a passing neighbor asked, "What's the matter with the boys?"
"Just what's the matter with the whole world," answered Lincoln. "I have three walnuts, and each boy wants two."
Lincoln's boys were stricken by a bug, says Avery, age 8: "God commanded us not to covet because sometimes if you can't get it out of your head, it might bug you."
As Honest Abe discovered, the coveting bug disturbs the peace. "If everyone in the whole world coveted, there would be no peace nor kindness throughout the world," says Sika, 9. Everyone would be "whining and complaining about what other people have," adds Laura, 9.
"You aren't cool if you don't have this" is the motivation behind a lot of coveting, says Taylor, 10.
Colton, 8, illustrates a better response to advertising: "If you see a cool skateboard on television, you should not be mean to someone who has it."
This is easier said than done. Advertisers spend millions trying to convince us that we can't live without their products.
Courtney, 11, has the remedy. Instead of focusing on what we don't have, "we should reflect on what we do have and be thankful for what Christ has given us."
Offering thanks to God is a major antidote against the coveting bug. Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
In addition to being thankful, Christine, 11, recommends another remedy: "God told us not to covet because he will provide us with what we mostly need, not junk that we don't even use."
We would do well to listen to Jesus' stern warning: "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
Jesus constantly pointed to the inner reality of his life with his Father. Once when his disciples offered him food, he told them he had bread about which they knew nothing. His food, the thing that really mattered, was to do the will of his Father.
"You shouldn't set your sights on things on the Earth, but things above," says John, 11.
Many people misquote the Bible by saying money is the root of all evil. Rather, it's the "love of money" that's the root of all kinds of evil.
If money calls the shots in your life, you're worshipping a false god. "No one can serve two masters at the same time," Jesus said. "You will hate one and love the other, or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other. You cannot serve God and money at the same time" (Matthew 6:24 ERV).
If you seek meaning and significance from things, you'll never know the overflowing joy and inner peace Jesus provides. When you ask God to fill you with godly desires, he will. The glitter of money and things will dim because you'll be enjoying an exciting relationship with him.
Kendal, 11, has been drinking from the eternal spring: "God wants you to find happiness in what you have. All you really need is Jesus to have that everlasting joy!"
Point to ponder: God wants you to find contentment in a relationship with him.
Scripture to remember: "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
Question to consider: Who really owns all your stuff?