The point of the Ten Commandments.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV)
Living in communion with God requires that we live in a way that draws us near to Him and doesn’t allow us to slip away from Him at the same time. But how can a people know how to draw near without slipping away when His vastness cannot be comprehended by the human mind?
The people of the Old Testament knew God from an ominous perspective. Through Moses, He had turned water into blood, overwhelmed the Egyptians with flies, gnats, and frogs, killed every firstborn in Egypt, then stopped a huge river from running so all Israel might be able to cross over. When they arrived at the mountain of God, for the first time, they heard His voice booming from the fiery mountain. They created a fear to follow Him, but they still didn’t know how.
It was the Ten Commandment that gave them the first glimpse of how to live in communion with God. The result became a nation obsessed with obedience to the commandments. They did not obey to love and honor God. They obeyed in fear of the consequences. Their obsession to obey produces a culture of judgment. Everyone was looking at everyone else to see if they were obeying. It created a culture of spiritual classes. There were those who were devoutly religious always obeying and there were those who gave up on trying to be perfect. Each judged and hated the other. What they had missed in their drive to obey the commandments was that love was to be the motivator.
The goal of the commandments was simply to teach us how to love God and love one another. When we obey in love, we will never turn a judgmental eye to a neighbor. The love that motivates us to obey will also motivate us to give grace. Without love, we will repeat Israel’s mistake. We will see ourselves as if we are better than someone who doesn’t obey the commandments as well as we do. And we will see ourselves as less than those who obey more. We will be judgmental, jealous, bitter. Love is the key.
How we all are you loving? Our ability to love comes from our ability to grasp how much we are loved by God. Then, we will obey and love better.
Prayer: Lord, help me not to become judgmental nor insecure from trying to obey without putting forth an effort to love better. Amen.