The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
And one of the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. But He said to him, Man, who has set Me as a judge or a divider over you? And He said to them, See, and guard against avarice; for no one’s life consists in the excess of his belongings.
AE 1021:2. There are two loves from which all lusts spring and flow forth perpetually like streams from their fountains. These loves are called the love of the world and the love of self... Now because the love of the world and the love of self are the foundations of all lusts, and all evil lusts are forbidden in these last two commandments, it follows that the ninth commandment forbids the lusts that flow from love of the world, and the tenth commandment forbids the lusts that flow from love of self. “Not to covet a neighbor’s house” means not to covet his goods, which in general are possessions and wealth, and not to appropriate them to oneself by evil arts. This lust belongs to the love of the world.
AE 1022:2. [In the tenth commandment] are [represented] lusts after what is a man’s own [proprium], because the wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, and ass, are inside his house, and the things inside a man’s house mean in the spiritual internal sense the things that are his own. That is, the wife means the affection of spiritual truth and good; “manservant and maidservant” mean the affection of rational truth and good serving the spiritual; and “ox and ass” mean the affection of natural good and truth....
But because coveting and desiring these affections means to will and eagerly desire to subject a man to one’s own authority or bidding, it follows that lusting after these affections means lusts of the love of self, that is, of the love of ruling, for this is how one makes the things belonging to a companion to be his own.
TCR 400:8. There are two kinds of dominion: one of love towards the neighbor, and another of love of self. These two kinds of dominion are opposites. He who exercises dominion from love towards the neighbor desires the good of all, and loves nothing better than to perform uses, thus to serve others. Serving others is doing good from good will and performing uses. Such is his love and the delight of his heart. Moreover, so far as he is elevated to dignities he rejoices in it, not on account of the dignities, but on account of the uses which he can then perform to a greater extent and in a higher degree. Such is dominion in the heavens.
But he who exercises dominion from love of self desires the good of none but himself and his own. The uses he performs are for the sake of his own honor and glory, which to him are the only uses. His end in serving others is that he himself may be served and honored and may rule. He seeks dignities not for the sake of the goods he may do, but in order that he may gain eminence and glory and may thereby be in his heart’s delight.
TCR 400:11. But love of the world is a desire to draw to oneself the wealth of others by any device whatever, to set the heart on riches, and to permit the world to withdraw and lead one away from spiritual love, which is love towards the neighbor, that is, from heaven. Those are in love of the world who long to draw to themselves the goods of others by various devices, but especially those who wish to do so by craft and deceit, caring nothing for the good of the neighbor. Those who are in that love covet the goods of others, and so far as they do not fear the law and the loss of reputation on account of the gain, they get possession of others’ goods and even plunder them.
TCR 400:14. In a word, love of self and love of the world are directly opposite to love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor. Consequently, love of self and love of the world, such as have just been described, are infernal loves, and these reign in hell, and also constitute hell in man. But love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor are heavenly loves, and these reign in heaven, and also constitute heaven in man.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Opposite to the spirit of coveting, the Lord asks, “Is not the soul more than food, and the body than clothing? Do not be anxious, therefore, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or With what shall we be clothed? For... your Heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25, 31–33)
- The Doctrine quotes these words from Matthew and comments, “Very different is the case with those who trust in the Divine. These, even though they have care for the morrow, still do not have it, because they do not think of the morrow with solicitude, still less with anxiety. Unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain the objects of their desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. If they become rich, they do not set their hearts on riches. If they are raised to honors, they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others. If they become poor, they are not made sad; if their circumstances are lowly, they are not dejected. They know that for those who trust in the Divine, all things advance toward a happy state to eternity, and that whatever befalls them in time is still conducive to it.” (AC 8478:3)
- AE 1021–1022 says that the ninth commandment is against love of the world, or materialism, while the tenth commandment is against love of self, especially love of ruling over others and manipulating people through their affections. We can consider which of these commandments we are more inclined to break, and how to defend against breaking them.
- TCR 400:8. Have you heard of or seen a good example of someone “exercising dominion” or leading from what appears to be a desire to perform uses and to serve others?