By Eric Taylor
Pastor, Cedar Hill Baptist Church, Cedar Hill
Focal Passage: Exodus 20:15-17; Psalm 37:1-6
They should not be thought of as add-ons just to make the commandments an even 10. They are as important as the first seven, and some scholars even believe that the tenth commandment may be the most important of all.
Matter of fact, the prohibition against theft (“thou shalt not steal”) and coveting are often treated in relation to one another, and for good reason. You see, most people understand they should not take something that does not belong to them (“steal”).
However, many forget that stealing, theft or burglary start inside a covetous heart. Martin Luther wrote: “Covetousness is a very seductive thing.” One of early Christianity’s greatest preachers, John Chrysostom, said that covetousness is more dangerous than the sins of the flesh. It is an unhealthy desire.
In Luke 4:10, Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
First Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” It is simple — theft and covetousness are dangerous threats to the follower of Christ.
In a related way, the prohibition of bearing false witness reminds of just how much God detests a lying spirit. Of the seven things “the Lord hates” in Proverbs 6, two of them have to do with this subject: “a lying tongue,” (v. 17), and a “false witness who speaks lies (v. 19).
When we break the ninth commandment we are committing a sin God hates and calls an “abomination” (Proverbs 6:16). Proverbs 14:5 says, “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.” We have a responsibility to speak the truth because we serve a God who is truth and follow our Lord Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life . . .”
To support these three commands, we can look to Psalm 37:1-6 to see how we fend off the temptation to thievery, covetousness and dishonesty. There are four things we can do.
First, we should not allow the fortunes of those who do not love the Lord to create within us any feelings or emotions that would cause us to break these final three commandments. The Bible says we should not “fret” (“agitated”) over or be “envious” (“jealous”), of their lives, because it is all temporary (vv. 2 and 7).
Second, we “trust in the Lord, and do good.” While this may seem simple, it sure seems difficult for some believers.
Third, we should “Take delight in the Lord,” and with this admonition comes a promise that God “will give you the desires of your heart.”
Finally, you must “Commit your way to the Lord,” which means we “trust Him” in all things. And when we commit our ways to the Lord the Bible says, “He will act.” Now how will He act? He will make sure you “shine” for Him. If there is one thing the world needs to see, it is Christ-followers shining brightly for Him. B&R