The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) are part of the old covenant, and given to the Israelites as God’s commandments for them. For those who were not God’s chosen people, the Law serves as a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus. Still, growing up in a home whereby faith was important, I grew up accepting these commandments as a guide for living, and doing the things that are right. Not just because these are God’s commandments but because they describe a moral code we should live by. I’m pretty sure Christians and non Christians alike can recite them (maybe not word for word, but definitely in context of right and wrong).
But as every day passes, and we hear of not so nice things happening in our world, I think the moral code we should live by is slowly disintegrating …. and changing our society, and not necessarily in a good way. Please don’t get me wrong. I understand that society changes over time, and things slowly become acceptable that maybe weren’t acceptable even a decade ago, but I wonder if in all the changes, we’ve done more than leave God behind???
Allow me to explain. These are the ten commandments:
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make idols.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet.
The first one? Yeah, it’s gone out the window. I am pretty sure it flew out the day things like radio and television became the norm (and that was long before social media took over). I believe the first, second and tenth commandment are tied closely together in our world today. We worship celebrities, the local weather guy, our local sports hero. Our kids hang pictures of them in their bedrooms. We follow their every escapade in news (or tabloid) stories. And interestingly, we even want to be like them. We want their hair, their cars, their bank accounts. We want our kids to follow them as role models.
And yes, I have to confess that as a teenager, my bedroom walls were plastered with NKOTB posters. I had a picture of ‘Gilbert Blythe’ on my mirror. But as an adult, I can barely remember the names of characters on my favourite tv shows, let alone who the person is that portrays them (lol). I’m raising this today because as an adult, I have come to realize what those commandments actually mean, and likewise, the purpose of thinking on a higher level beyond the one presented in the world. But as I alluded before, just because I only believe in one true God, does not mean that on occasion I have been guilty of worshiping another. If we are honest, we would all admit that this is a problem we all have.
But the third commandment is probably the biggest struggle I have on a daily basis. Not because I take the Lord’s name in vain but rather because I find myself (at least 5-6 times a day) telling my daycare kids to not say ‘oh my ….’ or just saying ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ in any other context than prayer. These kids are as young as 3 and as old as 9. They have NO IDEA what they are saying, or why I don’t like it because they were never taught differently. I’ve been suggesting my 3 year old say ‘goodness’ instead. I told her that when she says goodness it brings a smile to her lips, and that makes it a happy word instead. It’s working… kind of, but the older kids don’t understand. And because it’s a term used by everyone they know, in frustration or regular conversation, they don’t see why it’s not okay in my house.
The fourth commandment (beyond the great debate as to whether the sabbath day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, lol) also raises questions. Personally, I think I work hard enough for five days a week that on day six and seven all I want to do is rest 😉 Unfortunately, in today’s world, most families I know aren’t afforded the luxury of a day of rest, because in order to keep up with the bills, our days off are the only day we get to do everything else that needs to be done. Again, something as simple as a day to rest — to sit back and enjoy God’s handiwork, and the beautiful lives and continued blessings we are given, are gone.
And the fifth commandment? Honour your parents is another one that seems to be open for interpretation. To what degree is this important??? Most people are fortunate to have had parents (that might have made mistakes along the way) but still grew up knowing they were loved and cared for. Unfortunately, we all know at least one or two people who did not have those parents. Instead, they had parents who neglected them, abused them, or were just indifferent to them. How do you honour people who truly do not deserve your love? I believe this is where a relationship with Jesus is most important because when we know Him as our Lord and Saviour, we can forgive those who have hurt us. Instead of carrying a spirit of heaviness within, we can move on and let the pain go.
The remaining commandments offer good counsel for getting along with others in society. But the ninth commandment nails it. In fact, I wonder if people today understand that our neighbours aren’t just the people who reside next door to us? Instead, they are all the people around us, including those in our towns cities or community. These are the people at our jobs, at our churches, in our Facebook groups, and at the grocery store. Neighbours can be complete strangers or people we know better than ourselves. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been lied about. I have had people whom I trusted tell lies (bearing false witness against me) and I can tell you those lies hurt. They hurt right down to the inner core of who I am. They have caused me on more than one occasion to reevaluate my entire life. They have cost me relationships. They once cost me friendships, and my job! Once they almost cost me my only way of supporting my child.
Herein is my point. Just because society and the world we live in is changing, doesn’t mean right and wrong have altered. Just because something has become acceptable and okay in the eyes of some doesn’t mean everyone has to follow blindly along. Just because a word or saying has become common practice to use, doesn’t mean it’s okay to speak it. Just because someone else repeats something that was heard doesn’t mean it’s truth.
In this context, we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place for those coming after us. And the ten commandments (thankfully replaced in this “current” dispensation of grace by two commandments given by Jesus — to love the Lord with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love one another) should serve as a reminder. Sadly, however, it is getting more difficult to recognize the world in which we live. Still, I wish the world I was growing up in, was the same one my grandchildren were going to live in but unfortunately it’s not. In fact, in the last 15 years, I’ve seen our society degrade to something I never thought possible. I’ve watched people become stressed, miserable, depressed, angry and bitter and they’ve left all the good stuff — like just being thankful behind.
The good news is that it hasn’t become an epidemic — yet! Maybe, a look back to the basic commandments given to Moses would fix that??? From my perspective, it certainly couldn’t hurt.