Last spring, I purchased Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands by Jen Wilkin because a friend recommended it. Reading a book about the 10 Commandments sounded like a 5 on a 10 point scale of a good use of my time.
Unfortunately, the 10 Commandments, or the 10 Words as they are also described in Deuteronomy, suffer from either being over-emphasized or ignored because of their familiarity. Thus, my 5 points. I, too, have been influenced by the over/under emphasis, which made this a perfect book to pull-out and reread for our “Back to the Basics” thread this spring.
One passage in particular stood out for today’s Soul Tending Tuesday because it emphasizes how the 10 Commandments really are about LOVE. To set the scene Wilkin writes:
This is the message of the Scriptures: Love the Lord your God first; love your neighbor as much as you love yourself—and by implication, love everything else under that (Matt. 22:37-38). Sobriety is all about ordering our affections, our loves. It’s about being awake to God in every moment, even the moments of our pain, and fixing our adoration to him. It’s a call that be seen throughout the Scriptures, even in the oft-misunderstood Ten Commandments. Don’t believe me?
What are they but ways of training us to love God first, our neighbors second, and everything else last? What are they but ways of reminding us to adore the Creator over the created? Consider each commandment.
Then she goes through each commandment and highlights what they have to say about love. I invite you to take a deep breath and slowly let it out, allowing yourself to slow down. Read over the list and let your soul savor each commandment and mull over the connection to love.
Commandment 1: Don’t have any gods before me.
Or, Love me first.
Commandment 2: Don’t bow in worship to any created thing.
Or, Love and adore the Creator above the creation.
Commandment 3: Don’t misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Or, Value the name of Divine Love above your love of language.
Commandment 4: Remember the Sabbath and don’t work on it.
Or, Adore me more than the tasks I’ve given you to do.
Commandment 5: Honor your pops and your mom.
Or, Practice Divine Love in the context of your family.
Commandment 6: Don’t kill.
Or, Participate with me in Divine Love by honoring the life in others created by God.
Commandment 7: Don’t sleep with another man’s wife.
Or, Allow your love for me to supersede your sexual desires.
Commandment 8; Don’t steal.
Or, Allow your love for me to supersede your want for your neighbor’s goods.
Commandment 9: Don’t lie.
Or, Allow your love for me to supersede your penchant for shading the truth to make yourself look better or get yourself out of trouble or whatever.
Commandment 10: Don’t want someone else’s stuff.
Or, See commandment 7 and 8 and apply the lessons of Divine Love found therein.
She ends the section:
Sure, the commandments contain a healthy dose of do’s (do remember the Sabbath; do honor your folks) and do-not’s (the rest of them), but there’s a singular message behind each: learn the way of elevating God and others above your desires. . . . Examine those commandments again. If it were possible to live them out perfectly, would we be free from these coping mechanisms we can’t seem to shake? Wouldn’t we be ever awake to God’s love for us? (165-166)
This is too good not to discuss with someone! If you’re in member care, you could set up a zoom call with your people and discuss this article. If you are married or on a team, talk about this at dinner tonight or at the next team meeting.
As Wilkin hopes, oh that you and I will be ever awake to God’s love for us.