Day 10: Do not Covet

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 10

Today is Yom Kippur! Which also means it is the last of the Ten Days of Awe. It is only fitting that today we examine how the Tenth Word ties into the other nine as both an imperative and indicative for God.

Wait… what? What are those two words? Glad you asked. Imperative statements are commands, such as Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” Indicative is simply a fancy term that means a stated fact. Throughout scripture we are given indicative statements something that is true. These are the “Thus sayeth the Lord” verses through scripture as well as statements like “by grace you have been saved” in Ephesians 2:5. What’s interesting about the Tenth Word is the possibility that it may actually be both imperative and indicative.

Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

IMPERATIVE – DO NOT COVET

Obviously, the Tenth Word is similar to the other nine in that we are told not to do something. In this case, we are told not to covet – an action that is unobservable. But it is easy to see how coveting could actually lead to the other nine. This is because coveting…

  • Turns our focus to other “gods” in our life.
  • Tempts us towards defining God in tangible ways, thereby creating an idol.
  • Causes us to act in a way that does not carry God’s name well.
  • Causes us to abandon Sabbath in order to pursue other things.
  • Skews relationships with our parents because we want someone else’s parents.
  • Causes anger (or even murder) because we are jealous of someone else’s life.
  • Turns us into adulterers because we want someone else’s spouse.
  • Tempts us to steal because we intensely covet something.
  • Causes us to lie about our own life because we covet someone else’s.

These are just a few ways in which coveting can be connected to the rest of the Ten Words. God calls us to abandon our jealousy of things outside of our life – other homes, other vehicles, other spouses, other families, other vacations, other et ceteras. When we do, the Tenth Word transforms from an imperative statement to an indicative one. It transforms from a command to a statement of fact.

INDICATIVE – DO NOT COVET

Why is this? Because, if we don’t want someone else’s life, home, spouse, family, etc., then we do not covet. We’re happy with our own life, we’re perfectly content with what God has given us, and we’re brought to a place where we simply do not covet. Not because we are fighting against coveting as an imperative command, but because we simply don’t covet. Thus, the Tenth Word becomes a statement of fact rather than a “Thou Shalt Not”.

How do we get to the point where we do not covet? I think the answer lies in contentment. Paul gives us some insight in this this in Philippians 4:10–13. “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Here is a man who knew what it was like to have a lot and to have a little. To be completely safe under the protection of wealthy and influential people and to be in grave danger from those who sought to shut down the Christian faith. Yet, despite this Paul was content. He learned what it means to be content in all circumstances. Why? He understood that everything we have and everything we are is all because of God. When we truly understand this point then like Paul we will not covet.

Spend a few moments asking God to examine your heart and bring any covetousness to the surface. Through repentance, communicate to God that you are thankful for every good gift he has given you. Give thanks for every need he has ever come through for you.

Day 9: Do Not Bear False Witness

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 9

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Exodus 20:16

This is one command that most of us struggle with more than any other.  Often we assume and even read this command as simply, “Do not lie.”  But the actually words are, “Do not bear false witness.”  What is false witness?  It’s saying something or testifying against what you know to be true.

In reality, this command has more to do with our we live our lives than it does with the words we say.  If we understand what God has done for us, who He is, and who He has created us to be… than why do we live our lives as if he doesn’t exist?  Why do we live our lives as if He doesn’t matter?  Why do we give a false testimony of who God is to those around us?  If we are to imitate who Jesus is and represent him to the rest of the world… why sort of Jesus do they see in us?

Throughout these commands we can see a system that God has created.  A system that works if followed.  There’s light and there’s dark.  In creation we see that on day 1 God made a distinction between the two.  The light he called day, the dark he called night.  We chose the darkness.  When God was inviting us into the light, we chose the dark.  Why?  Because the darkness conceals who we are, what we’re capable of.

Over and over again God has called his people to come out of the darkness and step into the light.  To expose the darkness and be healed in the light.  He’s called the church to shine the light into the darkness because the darkness cannot comprehend it, it cannot understand it, and it cannot overcome it.  We do this by recognizing who we are, embracing the gospel of Christ and all that he has redeemed us from, confessing the darkness within and being healed.

This is what the church’s response should be.  Instead we continue to hide in the darkness out of shame, guilt, pride, or even our own love for sin.  The church has become a place where we misrepresent and bear false witness to one another of who we are and who God is.  God is calling us to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, and build bridges of healing to one another.  May we step into the light and out of the darkness.  May we embrace the gospel in our lives and understand what Christ has truly accomplished on the cross.  May we no longer judge one another for our sin but love one another and see that we are capable of the same things.

Spend some time confessing to Jesus the parts of your heart that is still hiding in darkness.  Ask him to heal you.  Repent and turn from evil.  Step into the light and shine through the darkness.  Represent to the world the love and grace that is our God.

Day 8: Do Not Steal

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 8[15] “You shall not steal.
(Exodus 20:15 ESV)

For every command there’s a negative and a positive.  Do not do this… rather be doing this.  For this one, it’s simple… “Do not steal, rather be generous.”

Throughout the Old Testament God must constantly remind his people that everything they have was a blessing… they didn’t earn it on their own.  The people of Israel were constantly thinking they could get what they had by means other than God.  This would often cause them to hold on tightly to their stuff rather than use it the way God intended.  This showed a lack of faith in God and a little too much faith in themselves.

Take a look at the wee little man Zacchaeus.

[19:1] He entered Jericho and was passing through. [2] And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. [3] And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” [6] So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:1-10 ESV)

Zacchaeus was one of the most despised people in the community.  He was a tax collector which meant he was a traitor to his Jewish community, a cheater, a liar, and thief.  Because Luke mentions that he was wealthy we can assume he cheated and stole from a lot of people.  But something happens to Zacchaeus when he meets Jesus.  He does everything he can to hear what Jesus is saying and then Jesus invites himself over to Zacchaeus’ house.  Somewhere in that conversation Zacchaeus saw something.  Something that changed everything for him.  Jesus never asked Zacchaeus to give back all the money he stole plus some (fourfold).  Zacchaeus was moved by what he saw in Jesus to do what honored him.

Being generous is not about getting God off our back or getting extra from God because we gave some away.  We don’t really see that principle in Jesus’ teachings.  What we do see is that God desires a heart that is bent towards him.  He desires a heart that is motivated by who Jesus is rather than what he can do for them.

What motivates you to give?  Has someone told you if you give God will give you more?  Is that what motivates you?  Or have you seen and encountered the real Jesus and have been so moved by who he is that you can’t help but want to bless him?

May you be generous because it blesses the heart of God.  May you see that what you have is not here by your handiwork (Deuteronomy 8:10-18) but by the very hands of God.  May we worship him with all that we have and all that we are.  And may we use our resources the way he intended us to use them.

Day 7: Do Not Commit Adultery

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 7

The Seventh Word, much like the Sixth, is one you may believe that you never have to worry about. “You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).” You’ve never committed adultery and don’t plan on it in the future, so you can breeze past this with confidence. But Jesus does the same thing with adultery as he did with murder. God’s original intent for this Word goes deeper than marital unfaithfulness (although it most certainly includes it). The Seventh Word begins as a heart issue that can lead to broken relationships if left unchecked.

ONENESS

Before we get to broken relationships, we need to first examine healthy relationships. A great picture of this is found in the godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existing eternally in perfect relationship. So perfect, in fact, that the Bible describes them as one.

Deuteronomy 6:4–5 says,“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The word for one in this verse is ehad meaning ‘complete one-ness’. This means that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have ‘comeplete one-ness’ in their relationship. They experience perfect community, love, adoration, and unity. That’s ehad.

What’s interesting to note is that ehad is also used to describe marriage. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one (ehad) flesh.” Therefore, marriage should be a picture of the godhead – a relationship so close that the two actually become one and experience ehad. Thus, whatever breaks that oneness is adultery.

Adultery, then, takes on a very wide definition. First and foremost adultery does mean extra marital relations. Yet adultery can also mean polygamy, pornography, illicit novels, emotional affairs, even hobbies. Anything that breaks oneness in a marriage is adultery.

DON’T GO BACK TO EGYPT

Jesus makes this point clear when he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27).” Anything that breaks ehad, even looking lustfully at someone other than your spouse (or future spouse), is tantamount to adultery.

This is important to understand because lust and adultery have deep consequences. At the surface level, adultery breaks relationships, shatters promises, and destroys trust. On a deeper level, adultery actually enslaves us spiritually. Peter said that “Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:19).” If we’ve acted upon adulterous thoughts and intentions then we have been overcome by lust. According to Peter, that lust has just enslaved us.

That’s why the Seventh Word is such a big deal. At the end of the day, God doesn’t want us to return to slavery. God had just brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and didn’t want them returning to slavery. Likewise, God has also brought us out of slavery in sin and the Seventh Word is a plea not to return to slavery.

PROMOTE EHAD

We must understand that according to Jesus we’ve all broken the Seventh Word. But, the good news is that Jesus kept it perfectly and has made oneness possible for us – oneness between us, God, and each other.

Look to Jesus, who cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). No matter if you’ve broken the Seventh Word or have been on the recieving end, Jesus makes reconciliation possible. Not only that, but there is a positive aspect to this Word. As God’s people we are called to promote ehad!

Spend a few moments in prayer. Examine you heart for areas or actions in which you’ve broken the Seventh Word and committed adultery. Seek repentance from God and ask him how you may be a promoter of oneness to the glory of his name.

Day 6: Do Not Murder

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 6

Right off the bat, the Sixth Word is something we all could probably place a check mark next to its box. If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance that you’ve never murdered anyone. But Jesus does something very interesting (and very convicting) with You shall not murder by tying it back to all of us.

MARRING THE IMAGO DEI

Before getting into how Jesus ties us into the Sixth Word, we should ask why is murder such a big deal. You might think that question is silly. Obviously, murder is terrible because it destroys someone’s life and robs them from their family and friends. But there’s actually something more to murder that goes beyond taking someone’s life.

When humans murder, they violate the imago dei of that individual. All humans are created with the image of God (imago dei) on them. Genesis 1:26–27 teaches us that we are intrinsically valuable because God has placed his image on us. Thus, when one human murders another human they mar the imago dei in that individual (Gen. 9:6), essentially telling God that his image is not worth being alive.

Now that’s a big deal.

Beyond this are the broader implications of murder. It takes the life of someone prematurely. It puts the murder in a position of functionally up-staging God by deciding when someone’s life should end. It robs the family and friends of a husband, wife, brother, sister, son, daughter, cousin, friend, etc. Furthermore, murder creates an unstable society, which is why biblical law included capital punishment for the sin of murder.

WE’RE ALL MURDERERS

Up until this point you may have said to yourself, “That’s great and all, but what does this have to do with me? I’m not a murder and don’t plan on being one in the future.”

Cue Jesus.

In Matthew 5:21–22, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

In just two verses, Jesus ropes us all into the definition of murder. Why? Because we’ve all been angry with someone to the point that we’ve insulted them or called them fool. The Greek for insult here is rhaka meaning ‘idiot’ and the word for fool here is mōros which is where we get our English word for ‘moron’.

Have you ever been so angry at someone that you said something along these line, “What a moron, he just cut me off! That idiot should learn how to drive.” If you have, according to Jesus, you’ve committed murder in your heart. Why? Because harboring deep anger towards someone and calling them an idiot mars the image of God in that individual. It’s saying to God, “What you’ve created and put your image on isn’t even worth living.”

Now that’s a big deal.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Jesus has a way of reminding us that we’re all on equal ground as sinners before a holy and righteous God. Just because you’ve never murdered anyone by taking their life away doesn’t mean you’ve never murdered in God’s eyes. After all, we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” But the story doesn’t end there.

The good news is that we have obtained an amazing inheritance through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:11). That inheritance is his righteousness attributed to us as our own (2 Corinthians 5:21). The one who accused us of being murderers allowed himself to be murdered so that we could be counted as righteous!

Take a few moments to examine your heart concerning anger you may harbor towards an individual, asking for forgiveness. Then, pray that God would transform you from being a person who harbors anger to being a person who dispenses peace, love, and grace all to the glory of the creator who gave us his image.

May grace and peace be with you as we all grow more and more like our savior.

Day 5: Honor Your Parents

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 5[12] “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
(Exodus 20:12 ESV)

For most of us that are adults and don’t live for our parents, or maybe our parents have passed on… this may be one that we tend to skip over.  Before you move on and think, “Well, this doesn’t really apply to me”… keep reading.

Why did God make this specific command to his people?  Why was it so important?  He was speaking to mostly adults here… there were children present, but I’m sure, like most of our children today, they weren’t paying that much attention.

First, before we can even attempt to follow this command… we must deal with our own existence.  Why am I here?  How am I here (by now you should at least know the answer to THAT question)?

For many, the mention of our parents may bring up disturbing memories.  Many in our world today have grown up with less than perfect parents… some have grown up in homes with unimaginable circumstances.  BUT, you did grow up and you are where you are now.  God used your parents and others in your life to bring you to where you are now.  Why?

For me, this seems to be the most encouraging message of the 10 Words… God has a plan and his plan stretches far beyond what we can see or imagine.  First, we must realize that our view of God has been dramatically influenced by our parents. When we think of God as our heavenly father, pictures of our earthly fathers may pop in our minds.  This could be good or bad.  If we had bad experiences with our fathers, then we might not like the idea of God as our Father.  If we had good fathers, then that image may not disturb us so much.  Regardless… we must put aside our bias towards our earthly parents and realize that God is the perfect heavenly Father that is far better and far more good than any father that has walked this earth.  He has our best interest in mind, he loves us far more than we can hope or imagine, and he wants good things for us.

Now, what does this mean for us today?

Maybe you are holding bitterness against your parents (whether they are living or not).  We must understand that God uses the flawed and abusive to accomplish great things… we must forgive, move on, and thank God that we are alive today, and he used our parents to accomplish that.  God does not delight in our pain but he is able to use even the most deplorable circumstances for his good.  If you are a parent today, you have the decision now to pass on the wound or break the cycle with your own children.

Take some time today to go to your Heavenly Father.  Thank him for being a Father that never fails.  He is a Father that is committed to loving you no matter where you may find yourself.  Ask him to reveal any bitterness in your own life whether toward your parents or someone else.  If we hold bitterness in our heart then that means that is a place in our heart where the gospel is not permeating.  Let go of the past and see what God has in store for your future.  Move beyond the pain, allow the Lord to heal, and let him use your experiences to expand His Kingdom.

If you’re a parent… how will you show your children more of who God is?  Will they see him has the Father he truly is when they look at you or will they see something else?  Introduce your children to their Heavenly Father by displaying the characteristics that we see in Christ.

Day 4: Sabbath

TEN DAYS OF AWE- DAY 4[8] “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

The fourth word is one that is difficult for me when I begin to really dissect what this really means.  Most of us have grown up hearing about the Sabbath Day.  On this day we go to church, and then, if we we’re good Christians we would go home and eat so we wouldn’t have to make the people at the restaurants work. We would make sure we cut the grass on Saturday so we didn’t have to do it on “the Lord’s day”.

Is that what this command is really getting at?  Maybe.  In my heart I really think it goes much deeper than not going to restaurants on Sundays or making sure the only work you did was turn the TV on to watch the Saints’ game while your kids play in the backyard.

What was the Lord really wanting from his people?  Why is he COMMANDING them to rest?

In our culture today I think this command is more important that we might think.  Most of us define ourselves by what we do.  Some of us may have well paying jobs or a high status job that gives some position of authority or stature.  Some of us may be full time moms or dads and we define ourselves by how well of a parent we might be.  Some of us may be artists or musicians.  Some of us may work just so we can have the material things that define us (a nice house, car, the right phone, etc.).

The Israelites knew what it meant to have your worth defined by what you produced.  For 400 years they were enslaved to Egypt, producing crops, making bricks, etc.  In one account of the Old Testament, Pharaoh makes it clear that these slaves are only worth what they are able to produce.  This is what they did, all day long, every day… make bricks until you die…

[10] So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. [11] Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’” [12] So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. [13] The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” [14] And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”
    [15] Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, “Why do you treat your servants like this? [16] No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people.” [17] But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ [18] Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks.”
(Exodus 5:10-18 ESV)

Here is a moment when God’s people are desiring to worship, so they ask for time to do this.  Pharaoh’s response: “If you have time to worship then you must not be busy enough”.  Now he requires them to make more bricks with less materials.  They knew what it meant to be defined by what you did.

What defines you? 
In a world where we are more prone to define ourselves by external things (careers, status, children, money, etc.), think about what has defined you.  What do you live for every day?  What is worth so much to you that you couldn’t live one day without it?

Has your work replaced God?  Is it your work that sustains you?  God desires to be those things for us.  He desires to be what sustains us.  He tells us to rest and focus time each week on him.  Thinking of the things he’s done, who he is, and how he has sustained us.  He desires to be the thing that defines us.  Not only do we need rest, he created us to need to rest, we also need him.  What does it say about us that we work all day long, every day, think about it when we get home, dream about, think about it when we’re eating dinner with our families?  What does it say about the priorities in our lives?

Take some time to stop.  Think about the things that God has done in your life.  Take some time to rest in him.  Put the work aside… it will always be there when you get back.  Stop defining yourself by what you produce and begin to define yourself the way God does… a child of the King.