The Tenth Commandment

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on October 26 2014.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) are one of the most well known parts of Scripture. They are known for being God’s fundamental list of “dos” and “don’ts”, and at a first glace seem fairly straightforward. No’s 1-9 focus on our actions. Obedience to these is a fairly plausible possibility. However, when we get to number 10 (“You will not covet”) we find that we are dealing with something quite different. The Tenth Commandment anticipates Jesus’ own teaching that faithfulness to God’s commandments does not start and end with actions alone, but rather that God looks at our hearts (Matthew 5:21-30). The Tenth Commandment inspects our thoughts and motivations and checks our desires. It forces us to ask ourselves if we are content with what God has given us, or are we harbouring the thought that he has not provided enough for us?

Reflecting on this, we might realise that coveting someone else’s stuff is really just the seed that brings forth the fruit of ‘theft’ – commandment #8. It doesn’t take long to work out after this that if the motivations that can lead to sin are just as liable to judgement as the sins themselves, any hope of righteousness that is based on the commandments is in serious jeopardy.

Fortunately, we have confidence of righteousness before God because of Jesus Christ. But we are still left with the realization that it is essential that we are given a new heart by God that is being renewed daily by the Holy Spirit. When you pray, make sure you spend some time offering your heart to God for inspection and renovation.