by Tim Howard
Someone made the observation that the Ten Commandments are not the Ten Demand-ments. This person evidently understood that God isn’t intent on forcing anyone to comply with His decrees. He simply wants to counsel us on the best way to live in the same way a good parent would do for their children. It’s God’s wisdom passed on to us.
The very word "commandment" has a negative connotation to us; when independent-minded humans like you and me think of rules and regulations.... we tend to think of burdens. People think that by their very nature these ten laws are restrictive limits to our freedom.
When many of us hear, 'THE TEN COMMANDMENTS' we hear the clank of chains and the rattle of padlocks. We hear God saying, 'You mess with Me, you step out of bounds, and I'll fry you like a bug landing on a transformer.' And this view... this opinion... of the Ten Commandments plays right into Satan's master plan – the one he's had from the beginning.
You see Satan has always wanted mankind to believe God is a prude, that He is the cosmic killjoy, a harsh old grandfather with a long, gray beard and bushy eyebrows.... Who doesn't want anyone to have any fun.... EVER!
That’s what happened with Adam and Eve. They believed the lie of the enemy. "Has God really forbidden you this lovely fruit?” Oh my. What a pity. What a shame. You realize of course, Eve, God knows if you ever taste from this tree, you’ll be able to do anything you want. God doesn’t want you to have that much authority. Eve, you need to know that true freedom means freedom from confining restrictions such as these."
Was Satan right? If you look around, you see what a life without boundaries will do. Every day we witness what happens in our communities when people choose to live by their own rules and reject the wisdom from above. Solomon said: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Are these 17 verses from Exodus 20, which contain these commandments harsh, negative, narrow and legalistic? Are they cold and confining? No! In fact they are just the opposite. God's laws bring freedom not confinement. They are not cold and harsh but warm and loving.
God gave us commands like: You shall not commit adultery because He knows sexual immorality is a path, not to pleasure and fulfillment but to emptiness and frustration. Don’t covet what your neighbor has because it will create a sense of competition and discontentment. Set one day aside for God because burnout awaits those who never pause.
God didn't throw His precepts into the Bible just because He liked the way they sounded; He didn't concoct those rules to throw His weight around; No, He gave those commands because He loves us and He knows some things that we don't. He wanted to protect us. He wants to show us the best way to live.
Solomon said: That wisdom cries out in the streets and even shouts to us. Have you committed the Ten Commandments to your memory? Which ones are you applying to your life? Which ones are yet to be acted upon? Even though God’s not forcing anyone to do anything, His wisdom is worth following. The Big Ten can lead you down a pathway that leads to life and fulfillment.