The sixth Commandment deals with the unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate malice, either expressed or implied. But in Matthew 5:21, Jesus speaks about those whose anger towards others is subject to judgment also. Rage, wrath, or even resentment towards someone long-term can be almost as damaging as killing them outright …and living under that constant emotional strain of being victimized by someone else’s anger can make a person wish they’d just die and not have to endure it anymore. We don’t have to stab someone in the back to kill their Spirit…our angry words will do that.
The last six Commandments are focused on our relationship with others. I’ve heard it said that you can pick your friends…but you can’t pick you family. We can’t choose who gives us life, and maybe for some, it was a very difficult childhood growing up with parents that weren’t the best at it…or were absent all together. How then can we put our heads around the concept of respecting and esteeming someone who really doesn’t deserve to be honored. Showing respect to any other human-being shows our personal character and integrity, not necessarily theirs. By being that bigger person, we can move on to make our lives better. As it says, “Honor your mother and father, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.”
The fourth Commandment is the last of the ten to focus on our relationship towards God. The Lord Himself started this tradition by resting from all His labors…”and on the Seventh day God abstained from work and rested.” The Sabbath needs to be a day of reflection and refreshment…a time of worship; being subject to God’s authority and trusting in Him to honor our obedience in keeping the day holy.
The first person I think of when it comes to the Third Commandment and taking the Lord’s name in vain is Job’s wife, who so infamously suggested to Job in the mist of all his suffering to, “Curse God and die!” Wrongly using God’s name does include profanity and cursing, but it also means just using His name lightly or without thinking. The Lord’s name should not be perverted, debased, or abused…He is God.
This verse is the second Commandment, and continues the same thought of idol worship…but the focus here is on the idols we create ourselves. Funny how idols can take on unique faces when we’re making them…these idols can be work or play related, they can revolve around amassing things or be very private and personal. But what the Lord wants us to remember is that these man-made idols are totally vain, worthless, and empty…and sadly will leave us feeling the same way in the end.
This is the first of what is called the Ten Commandments, and the Lord starts out with the most important directive to mankind…do not worship anyone or anything but Me. Do not follow another god, do not bow down, serve or sacrifice to it. The Lord demands that we remain faithful to Him alone, because as in Jeremiah 1:16 it says, “I will pronounce My judgments on My people because of their wickedness in forsaking Me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.” Our God is a jealous God, wanting our full devotion and love.
The Lord can not harden His heart against us, His children…He can not hold a grudge either for all our misdeeds we seem to do over and over. Rather, He finds pleasure in being kind and loving towards us…like a loving parent towards a little child. The Lord blots out completely our transgressions, and will remember our sins no more. The Prophet Micah was right to ask that awe-inspiring question…Who is a God like You?
We live in an age and time of uncertainty, and to solely rely on or put confidence in money alone is a scary thing. Wealth and riches are ever fleeting, and not something to place our full trust in. In the Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus spoke of a man whose vast wealth convinced him to take life easy…to eat, drink, and be merry. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.” By placing our trust in the Lord rather than temporal things, He holds out to us everything, and fills our hearts with joy.
During the Summer as children we would occasionally spend a night at our paternal Grandparents who lived close by. My Grandpa was a jovial sort, who smoked White Owl cigars and wore bib-overalls. Grandma was a tiny woman with a tremendous amount of energy and her Bible always at the ready. But the one thing I will always remember fondly about those visits was Breakfast. Now, it started out with the traditional fare of…eggs, bacon,and toast, but the real fun started when that had all been eaten. Grandpa would go to the pantry and bring back a fruit pie. What a forbidden treat… pie for Breakfast! As little girls, we would be absolutely giddy with excitement to think we could share in Grandpa’s special custom. This memory of my Grandparents has always been very special, and I can only hope that I’m making those same kind of lasting traditions and memories for my Grandchildren.
In this verse the Lord is saying that He will give us a heart that is united with His, and place within us the Holy Spirit, who will work on our behalf. The Lord will transplant our unrepentant, unyielding, hard as flint heart, and instead replace it with one that is undivided for Him. And the result will be us changed…a likeness of Jesus, His words not written on tablets of stone, but on tablets of our hearts.