The Ten Commandments are often portrayed as little more than rules that must be followed simply because they were given by divine fiat. But these rules have not only a God behind them, but a loving God behind them. It is out of God’s tender heart that he gives us these commandments, wanting what is best for us. In this series, we look not only at the Ten Commandments, but at the loving reason behind them.
May 2: The Zero-eth Commandment
Debates have raged between different segments of the Church over how we are to number the Ten Commandments. Some say there are two commandments on idolatry. Others say there are two commandments on coveting. But in Jewish thought, the first commandment is not so much a commandment as it is a declaration: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus 20:2). Before God tells His people what they are to do, He reminds them of what He has already done. God’s work, then, is the power behind our works.
May 9: One and Only
Idolatry is when we take a good thing and turn it into a God thing which is a bad thing. Why is this a bad thing? Because it is an affront to the true God. But Isaiah also reminds us that we desire out of an idol what it can never give: help and fulfillment. Idols always disappoint. God, however, always keeps His promises.
May 16: Name Brand
In the ancient world, someone’s name was also their reputation. God does not want us to take His name in vain because that damages His reputation. Yet, by how we live and by what we do as Christians, we often do besmirch how God wants to be known. Honoring God’s name, then, includes everything we say and do.
May 23: Stop! In the Name of Love
The Hebrew word “Sabbath” means “stop.” God’s desire is that we stop and take time to rest so that we may do the work He has given us. The Sabbath, then, is meant to be a joy, given by God out of love. Yet, in our culture, we all too often neglect this joy for the sake of workaholism. How can we be more intentional about practicing the rest God commands?
May 30: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
The great Greek philosopher Aristotle asserted that families are the basis of any healthy society. The Scriptural authors would agree. Thus, families need to thrive. The Fourth Commandment is meant to foster such thriving. Parents and children are to show mutual respect to each other.
June 6: Pleading the Fifth
When someone “plead the fifth,” they are refusing to speak about a particular incident because what they say may wind up being incriminating. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus looks at the Fifth Commandment and pleads with us that we follow it not only in our actions, but in our hearts.
June 13: No Excuses
Adultery is often justified by excuses. “My marriage has grown cold.” “This lover is my soul mate.” “God wouldn’t want me to be happy.” But no excuse can justify adultery. What we need are not excuses. What we need is forgiveness.
June 20: Beg, Borrow, But Don’t Steal
God loves to provide for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:10). Stealing takes what God has provided for someone else and tries to commandeer it for oneself. Therefore, stealing distrusts God’s provision. Theft, of course, is not just a crime of the poor. As the story of Zaccheaus demonstrates, even the rich can fall prey to distrusting God’s provision. The remedy for theft is both faith in God and generosity toward others. Do we live our lives in this way?
June 27: Tall Tales
Everyone lies. But just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it right. Abraham lies about his relationship to Sarah because of fear. He also tries to justify his lie by pointing out how it is partially true. We do many of the same things. Yet, because Christ is the truth (cf. John 14:6), we are called to be truthful.
July 4: What’s Yours Is Mine
Coveting is a dangerous sin because you can fall prey to it without anyone around you knowing it. It is first a sin of the heart. And it will make you miserable. How can we be content rather than covetous?