God’s “top ten” are about the character God wanted his children to have. Truthfully, the Ten Commandments are about God’s character that should be manifested in God’s children. If someone passed a law saying that no one could own more than 25 pages of the Bible, I would take the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the last chapter of Revelation. If that law was passed it would be crucial to live strong, knowing that Jesus was coming soon! Come to think of it – that is how all of us should live today – and we are allowed to own every word of the Bible. The first four commandments are about our relationship to God, and the last six are about our relationships with other people. If we know God well, then others who know us will get to know God well. Forgive me for stepping on a lot of toes – please know that I stomp on my own all the time … but here is why I spent three posts teaching the Ten Commandments. And here is how you can know whether or not you are living like God intended. Ask yourself this question: Do people who know you, come to know God? The last three commandments might be your best way to make sure the answer to that questions is a “YES!”
Exodus 20:15 – “You shall not steal.” Now I understand that I am probably not writing to people who stopped by the 7-11 this morning, avoiding the security cameras, and demanded everything in the cash register be handed over. I’ll bet most of you have made an effort to return change that was mistakenly handed to you. But at the same time, I bet all of us have stolen someone’s reputation, or their right to be first. I bet all of us have stolen someone’s chance to be heard or their opportunity to succeed. And I bet all of us have stolen God’s glory for the sake of our own.
Titus 3:1-2 just spells it out! “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” I need to put this verse on the dashboard of my car, on the back of my cell phone, and on my computer screen. I might need to tattoo it on my arm. Never mind…let’s just memorize Titus 3:1-2 and then live what you know is true.
Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” One of the Jewish leaders asked Jesus to define neighbor. Jesus answered his question by telling him the story of the good Samaritan. Once again…Jesus redefines a commandment. The way we treat other people is our witness to the world. The Good Samaritan wasn’t the man who knew God’s word the best, he was the man who acted on God’s word the best.
James 1:25 says, “The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” Does your “testimony” lead your neighbors to know Christ? (Maybe we need to rethink that Titus tattoo!)
Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet…anything that belongs to your neighbor.” We have established who your neighbor is. Now, what does your neighbor have that you want for yourself instead. That is what that commandment means. It isn’t just about admiring your neighbor’s new car, new furniture or new job. It is about wanting to have those things and not wanting them to have them. To all the parents out there: This commandment is about wanting your child to be chosen for a position or honor instead of so and so’s child. Think about the last time you sat smiling, clapping and fuming inside over something lost or someone looked over. Did you get in the car and break this commandment on the way home? I’ve always wanted to be super stylish and have it all together. Unfortunately, when I spend money it is more about comfort than style, and “chic” is hardly ever found on the 50% off rack (take an additional 30%.) I love the 10th Commandment. It is God saying, “and in case I didn’t cover something before…this ought to do it!” Living a godly life is about including God in EVERY aspect of your life.
I hope you have enjoyed God’s top ten list. It is familiar Scripture – but most of us know it better than we obey it. It is good to remember that God told us how to live so that we could know him and others could know him through our witness. That is why we have Ten Commandments instead of ten suggestions. Jesus summed it up this way, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, 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 22:37-39). Gosh…I could have done that in one post!