The first four of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) are clear that we are only to worship God, not anything or anyone else, that He is to be first for us in our hearts and minds and souls. No other images to worship, no misusing His name, but we are to honor the Sabbath Day by keeping it Holy, as God did after creating the universe in six days. These are important commandments that put God first in our lives.
The fifth command says that we are also to honor our parents who gave us so much in our upbringing that made us who we are. This is also a means of honoring and loving our God.
And then in the last five commands, we are told that it is our behaviors and our attitudes toward other people that need to be addressed if we are to love and honor our God. It is not about looking good to others in our lives, but about being good! We are not to murder, commit adultery, steal, give false testimony, or covet anything that belongs to our neighbor. While Exodus 20’s listing of the 10 Commandments is cited here, it is in Matthews 5-7, in the Sermon on the Mount, that we find Jesus’s expansion of what those commandments are really asking of us. Jesus talks about fulfilling the law in the last five commandments by not getting angry with a brother or sister (5:22), by reconciling with your brother or sister before offering your gift at the altar (5:23-24), and by settling any dispute with an adversary before taking it to court (5:25).
Jesus defines adultery as even looking lustfully at a woman (5:27-28). He adds if your right eye or your right hand “causes you to stumble,” cut it out (5:29-30). He then calls us on any tendency to not tell the truth: “all you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (5:37).” He goes on to say, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (5:38-39).” Do more than anyone asks of you, too (5:40-42). And even more, He asks us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven,” who loves all His children (5:43-48).
These are not just rules about how we are to act with other people whether we like them or not, these are all ways that we are to show how much we love our God. In Matthew 6 Jesus continues to describe what loving God truly means. We are not to parade our devotion to God so everyone can see it, but to do it in private where only God sees our prayers and our help for the needy and our fasting (6:1-4, 16-18). We are to pray the Lord’s Prayer which honors “our Father” and expresses our gratitude for all that He is and all that He does for us by ourselves, again where no one can see us (6:5-13). We are to forgive others for their sins, and then our Father will forgive us our sins (6:14-15).
We are not to store up “treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” where nothing can harm them. Then God will see what you treasure—heaven or earth. If your eyes can see what Jesus is teaching, then you will be full of light (6:19-23). And serve only God, because we cannot be true to two masters (6:24) Do not worry. You Father in Heaven will feed and clothe and take care of your tomorrows and every day of your life (6:25-34).
In Matthew 7 Jesus digs deeper into our attitudes toward others. “Do not judge” others or you will be judged by the same criterion you used on the other (7:1-2). Or why do you complain about a “speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye” when you have a plank in your own eye that blinds you to what is real and true. First, admit the truth about yourself before you tackle the speck in his eye. (7:3-5).
Turn to God and pray for what you need. He will always take good care of you. And “do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (7:7-12).” That is the Golden Rule of our lives. Enter through the narrow gate, the gate that leads to abundant life. Otherwise, the wide gate leads to destruction (7:7-14).
Be careful of false prophets: “by their fruits you will recognize them…a good tree cannot bear bad fruit.” And watch out for false disciples. Only those who do the will of God can enter the kingdom of God. And be careful to choose a wise builder who builds houses on rock, so that the house will endure the storms of life (7:15-29). To be true to God our Father is to know Him through the Scriptures, through the truth of what Jesus and the prophets told about Him. We need to be wise and obedient to the truth of what our lives can be if we are truly following Jesus. The Ten Commandments with Jesus’s interpretation of them are our guide for loving God with all of ourselves and for following Jesus. Amen.
Questions to ponder over the week: Which commandments are most difficult for you to follow: the ones about loving God, your parents, or others? What most challenges me in the call to love God? How can I change my attitudes toward my parents or others?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who do our best to follow the Ten Commandments and Jesus’s interpretation of them. May we turn over all our flaws to the Lord to heal and to bless.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will email it to you, free of charge.
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