Covetousness is defined as "the inordinate, culpable desire to possess what belongs to another or that to which one has no right." To covet is defined as "to desire, yearn for, crave, want, wish for, long for, hunger after/for, thirst for." Coveting is both a soul taint and a sin.

The covetous soul is greedy. Coveting, a chief feature of the appetitive soul, is a misuse of the desire principle under the Love principle; it is irresponsible and the basis for theft. For the covetous soul, life's glass is half empty. "Thou shalt not covet" is one of the Ten Commandments.

Edna Lister on Coveting

Only grief results from covetousness. – Edna Lister, October 12, 1938.

To want is to covet or to crave. Greedy craving is an unconscious creature expression (imagine a bear robbing a bee's hive). Coveting moves from passive to active, positive desire. Yet coveting is an action of self-will that inevitably brings a reaction of the law of force. Coveting causes grasping, taking and having to pay later. The law always collects payment for substance willfully misused as force. – Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

Unalterable law holds the gains for which you have sacrificed self against another's covetousness. No one may take what is rightfully yours. – Edna Lister, July 15, 1945.

Thou shalt not covet. – Exodus 20:17. Few people understand what covetousness means. When you begrudge praise for an eager one, or are half-hearted about his enthusiasm, you reveal your jealousy, envy, covetousness, hard-heartedness and stinginess of soul. You covet praise when you say, "He is fine, but." – Edna Lister, Now Is the High Time, December 6, 1953.

Anyone who covets promotion automatically disqualifies himself from the running. – Edna Lister, Revelation: The Beast with Ten Horns, June 3, 1958.

Coveting is desire turned downward. Anyone who covets is in danger of losing all. Make each day a day of judgment of self. Measure yourself against the Light, never against your neighbor. When you compare your life to that of anyone else on earth, you covet, which provides the basis for self-pity, martyrdom and repudiation of personal responsibility. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." – Matthew 6:33.

Ask to be filled with Light and anything of the Spirit that you covet shall be "added unto you." Covet only God's good. Work for it, obey and become law and "all these things shall be added unto you." – Edna Lister, Ten Commandments and Beatitudes, November 4, 1958.

Whatever you covet, you stand to lose. – Edna Lister, November 2, 1959.

Everything you desire, covet or create are your spiritual "sheep." – Edna Lister, The Good Shepherd, November 1, 1964.

Selfish desire is covetousness. – Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

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> New Testament on Coveting

That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man. – Mark 7:20‑23.

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. – Luke 12:15.

Covet earnestly the best gifts [of the Spirit]. – 1 Corinthians 12:31.

[You] must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. – 1 Timothy 3:2‑6.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. – James 4:1-3.

Wars and fights come from your desires for pleasure that war in you [inner conflict]. You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. – James 4:1-3 (NKJV).

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Old Testament on Coveting

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. – Exodus 20:17.

Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbor's. – Deuteronomy 5:21.

For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, and blesses the covetous [greedy], whom the Lord abhors. – Psalm 10:3.

Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. – Psalm 119:36.

The desire of the slothful kills him; for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all the day long. – Proverbs 21:25-26.

He that hates covetousness shall prolong his days. – Proverbs 28:16.

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Coveting in Other Sacred Writings

Nothing is more wicked than a covetous man: for he puts his own soul on sale. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 10:9.

A covetous man's eye is not satisfied with his portion. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 14:9.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of covet: Old French coveitier, from covitie, desire, from Latin cupidites, from Latin cupidus, desirous, from cupere, to desire.

Coveting is a soul taint.

Coveting is a sin.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

Related Topics

See Envy

See Jealousy