Lesson 72: "Desire of the moth for the star"

Just, in deed (70) and word (71): you also owe it, to all with whom you have to do, to be just in thought. For the tenth commandment is Thou shall not covet; and My duty towards my neighbour is . . . not to covet or desire other men's goods.

To "covet" means to “wish earnestly for a thing that you know you ought not to have, because it belongs to some one else" (hating another child who has better clothes, more money; a grown-up person who is better looking, more popular, has a nicer house). It is a sin of thought; and words and deeds grow from thoughts, like plants and flowers from seeds. Read about the crimes of two men who let covetous thoughts grow (2 Kings 5,20 to 27; St. Matthew 26, 14 to 16).

But you must never think that it is wrong to want to “get on in the world." My duty is ... to learn and labour truly to get mine own living, and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall please God to call me." These words are often quoted wrongly by people who don’t know their Catechism: they say unto which it hath pleased God to call me. Of course it is not wrong to want to get a better job, to use your brains so that you are given a higher and better-paid post. You are not meant to live like a cabbage (always in the same spot), or a jellyfish (with no backbone, ambition, “push" or “guts"). It may be that “it shall please God to call" you to great work, greater than you can now imagine. But it is always true that “God helps those who help themselves."

Yet you are not to be a perpetual grumbler, always “fed up" and discontented, ever restless and longing for something else. That is how much of the world’s misery is caused. It is your duty to God, as well as your neighbours, to be happy, cheerful, peaceful in mind (57). Haggerston isn’t such a bad old place, even if it does smell a bit. Anyhow, I don’t want to live anywhere else; at least, not so long as it has people like you in it.