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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

The Power of Words (Commandments 9, 10)
Date Posted: April 15, 2022

The injunction against bearing false witness or testifying falsely is meant primarily to foster a just society through its criminal justice system. Which only happens if people tell the truth. Today, politics might be a truer test of our character and – in some ways – a bigger danger to our society.

Do we promote our political convictions with the truth? (Not as we define it, but after investigating rumors for legitimacy.) Do we express love when practicing our political convictions? (Not just for those who agree with us, but for those whom we disagree with.) Does the fruit of the Spirit permeate our conversations, especially with people we disagree with? After all, we are commanded to love our neighbor/enemy, which many consider their political opponents to be. (See James3:6-10; 1:26 & Matthew 7:1-5)

Broader still, this injunction would embrace the ideal ‘Do not lie’ – ever – in any way. ( Leviticus 19:11,12) Don’t stretch the truth, hedge your bets, gossip ( Romans 1:29) etc. A society cannot stand when false testimony – in any of its manifestations – becomes the norm; as some undermine our political institutions, while others destroy relationships. And more importantly, we must realize that when it’s all said and done, we will be held accountable to God “…for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

The last commandment deals with what is commonly referred to as ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’. Don’t covet, or live within your means and be content. Coveting being the persistent craving for more of what we don’t, can’t or shouldn’t have; particularly when those things belong to someone else.

When denied what we feel we want or deserve ( Romans 7:7,8), we often begin to rationalize the means we might take to acquire it. ‘They’re no better than me. I’ve worked hard too. They’ve got more than they need’. Like Adam and Eve, we’ve all heard the serpent whisper, “Did God really say (that)?” And as with them, the result is often shame, guilt and alienation.

The tenth Commandment addresses the heart of the other nine, coveting often being the trigger behind our transgression of the rest; the word for covet sometimes rendered avarice or greed. Which is essentially what our economic system is built on; creating a desire in us for more to increase consumer spending. To be fair, it also fuels innovation and product improvement, creates jobs and opportunities for success. But uncontrolled, it merely convinces us that, contrary to scripture, life really does consist in the abundance of our possessions ( Luke 12:15), which falls far short of the genuine success God created us for.

Paul wrote, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Warning that, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9,10 Its about an unwillingness to live within our means, spending more than we ought or have, for things that will often be – in time – equally unsatisfactory. (See Is. 55:2) Jesus teaching that we should not, “…worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Instead “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t concern ourselves with paying our bills or providing for our families. But it only stands to reason that the more we have, the more we have to maintain. Paul writing from a Philippian jail that, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, …and to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry,… living in plenty or want. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13Those who have been blessed with wealth are likewise cautioned, “…not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:17,18

Contentment is the opposite of covetousness, realized – in large part – through the practice of three disciplines. 1. Gratitude – the more grateful we are for what we have, the less we will feel the need for more. “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 2. Generosity. In giving, we find release from craving’s hold on our lives, as it’s hard to focus on what you imagine you want when you are focused on the needs of others. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25 3. Love. As Jesus defines it isn’t a feeling but a way of life. We cannot love our parents and dishonor them. We cannot love our neighbors and kill them, sleep with their spouse, or steal from them.1

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? …let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18

1Quote and inspiration for this article taken from Adam Hamilton’s book Words of Life , subtitled, Jesus and the Promise of the Ten Commandments, Convergent publishing

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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