Or are they merely the Ten Suggestions?
I think people get uncomfortable with the word, commandment. In this age of moral relativism, most people simply don’t like being told what they can and can’t do.
What most people don’t realize is that the Big Ten from God were meant for those of the Jewish faith that were rescued out of Egypt by God’s hand. For the Christian, they take on yet another meaning. They’re not a rule book by which we tick off the boxes in order to receive salvation and grace. They are an outward sign of our willingness to live according to God’s will because we’ve been accepted and saved. For an authentic Christian, this is not a buffet-style offering where we take what we like and leave the rest. Authentic faith takes these as a compete package, knowing we’ll probably fail more than one of them at any given point in time…over and over again. But that doesn’t mean we don’t at least try to follow them..and when we fail, asking for forgiveness and that second, third or a hundredth chance.
But if you’re going to the mat on where you think they should appear, you probably need to know them.
Lynn Westmoreland, Georgia’s representative for the 8th district, found that out the hard way. While I absolutely do not endorse Stephen Colbert as a credible journalist in any way, shape or form, this clip is a wonderful example of a bad case of putting your foot in your mouth (fast forward to five minutes into the interview) http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/tlf8t3/better-know-a-district—georgia-s-8th—lynn-westmoreland
For Lynn’s benefit, let’s review them:
The first four focus on the vertical relationship we have with our Creator.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me. This is a commandment about loyalty. We should love, honor and realize the supreme authority of the god who created the universe and everything in it .
2. You shall not make idols. This one is about what we worship in our lives. It tell us we should not put anything of higher importance over the god who created us in his own image.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. This one is about respect. How we treat God’s name in our communications reveal what we really think about him and what place he has in our lives.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This one reminds us to set aside time during our week to pause and reflect on God’s importance in our lives. A time to reflect on what sort of relationship we have with Him and to take time to restore and rejuvenate our spiritual health.
The rest focus on horizontal relationships we have with each other.
5. Honor your father and your mother. This commandment focuses on the importance of family relationships. When families are dysfunctional, relationships of all kinds tend to break down. It drives home the importance of parental authority….provided the parents are operating from an ethical and moral compass. But, like it or not, they are our parents and are, as the people who gave us the blessing of life, deserving of respect.
6. You shall not murder. This one reminds us of the sanctity of human life. God wants us to treat others with respect and not willfully or maliciously harm them with our actions….or…wait for it….our words. He wants us to control our tempers even with those who choose to hate us. Very hard to do among countries with different theologies or opposing political parties.
7. You shall not commit adultery. God instituted marriage for a reason. Its purpose is to have someone in which to intimately share life’s successes….and failures, joys….and sorrows. The love and support of a spouse during both the fantastic and horrible times is a divine blessing. It’s a special relationship based not on what that person can do to fulfill our expectations, but rather what we can do for them. Marriage is the framework for a stable family, demonstrating to the next generation how unconditional love is supposed to work. When there is a break in that union, demonstrating that concept and achieving that goal becomes difficult at best.
8. You shall not steal. Obviously a directive on honesty and not taking things that belong to another person. We should respect the property of another and not think we’re entitled to it. God provides what we need, when we need it and doesn’t want material possessions to become the focus of our happiness.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. A commandment on the importance of not being deceitful and lying or slandering another person. In biblical days, a persons testimony weighed heavily on the court and being truthful many times was the only determining factor in deciding the guilt or innocence of the person accused of a crime. Today, our words can also determine the fate of another. Slanderous comments and outright lies about another can destroy reputations and credibility. The way we conduct our lives should be anchored in truth.
10.You shall not covet. This commandment is about contentment with our lives and to not always be looking at what other people have compared to what we have…or don’t have. That larger house, that prettier wife, that more courteous husband, those perfect children, that ideal career….If we’re content with our lives and where we are in that journey, we’re less likely to break a number of the previous commandments in order to get what we think is our heart’s desire at that moment.
When asked by the Pharisees which commandment was the most important, Jesus summed it up perfectly when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-38
After all, how many of us willingly disrespect ourselves, lie or slander our own name or treat ourselves maliciously?
The original Big Ten were designed to provide God’s people, the Israelites, with a way to live a healthy and safe life amidst corrupt, pagan cultures. Today, they can provide the same for those who see them not as *kill joy* rules and regulations but as the means to living a content and fulfilling life.