Do you remember what the tenth commandment says? Do you think that it is any less important just because it is #10? You would be right if you thought, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, servants, animals, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The dictionary tells us that the word covet means “to desire that which is another’s or to wish for excessively and culpably or to crave”. Everyone recognizes that stealing something that does not rightfully belong to him is wrong, but we can more easily rationalize those envious or greedy thoughts. After all, our thoughts are our own little secrets, so how can that be a problem?
Unfortunately, Achan’s covetous thoughts, which were sinful in themselves, led to his stealing some of the valuable things which were to be dedicated to the Lord. By his own admission, he saw those things and wanted them so much that he took them and then he buried them beneath his tent. When the greed in his mind took hold of him, he was no longer able to think clearly about the consequences of his actions. He never dreamed that the whole nation would suffer and that Joshua, his esteemed leader, and the elders would be forced to their knees in anguish and concern. Clearly he was not able to see past his own selfish desires to the fact that he was violating the covenant which the Lord had made with His people. Whether his wife or family were involved in his decision to act upon his secret lust we do not know, but they, too, had to pay the consequences for the sin that had been committed. That day in the Valley of Achor, which means disaster, would not be forgotten by those Israelites.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus reminded the people in the sermon that He preached on the mountainside early in His earthly ministry that what we lust for in our mind is already a sin and that what we think about will inevitably be unveiled in our actions? It takes honesty and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to say “no” to those thoughts that persistently knock on the door of our mind asking if they could stay there and visit!