A couple weeks ago I posted lessons from our Sunday School class on Moses. That was so that was well received, I thought you might also benefit from our discussion of the Ten Commandments, which were collected by Moses on Mount Sinai. Also called the Decalogue, these laws are unique for how comprehensive and brief they are.
These laws are requirements, not goals, and are mandates for now as much as they were for then. They are never obsolete, and are always relevant. We laughed that they also are not multiple choice! Think of them as the rules of happiness.
The first four laws are about our duty to God, and the last six emphasize our duties to mankind. All of these laws overlap and are dependent on all the others ones.
Behind every “thou shalt not” is a “thou shalt,” or a “thou art” or a “thou canst not.” For example when you are consciously recognizing your divine origin and identity, you cannot simultaneously kill, adulterate, lie, steal, or covet. The point is to focus more on being who you should rightly be, than on what you are not allowed to do, because one naturally precludes the other. I am fond of saying, “To avoid doing it wrongly, concentrate on doing it rightly.”
Following these commandments is imperative and important, for the only way healing is accomplished is by being obedient to this divine law. But Mary Baker Eddy assures us that, “God’s law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfill.” Fortunately, the divine Principle that made the law, also enables us to follow it.
Discussion of the Ten Commandments
#1) Love God more than anything else. There is only one God and this first law– also called the Great Commandment– stresses the unity, or singleness of God. God is the infinite all-ness, ever present and all-powerful. You cannot get outside God, and there is ‘no spot where God is not’. No loopholes, no getting around or hiding from God. God is always right here, and there is no other. We can have no divided loyalties. There is no where else to go. Neither is there any push or pull of stress when we acknowledge God as the only power, presence, influence, or force.
Mary Baker Eddy’s favorite text was the First Commandment. She says,”The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal. One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.” (SH 340:20)
It is clear that all the world’s troubles stem in some way from breaking the First Commandment. With that in mind, maybe we should be more tenacious and steadfast about following it. Do we allow ourselves to worship many other lesser gods, like money, popularity, sex, food, success, popular culture, yourself, or even fear and doubt? Set all that and more down in favor of the one infinite God that created and sustains everything. Jesus admonishes us,”Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven… and all this will be added unto you.” Put first things first, and start with the blessing of the only one real infinite God, that is all Life, Truth and Love.
To express any other spirit or mind than God, is to break the First Commandment. God is the only motive power. The First Commandment is saying that I have no other law of my being or existence than that of divine Principle. I have no other identity than Soul. I have no other substance than Spirit. I have no other reality than Truth. I am the expression of Life and Love that are God. I reflect and manifest God in all that I am. I am nothing without God.
#2.) Don’t let anything be more important to you than God. This commandment also emphasizes the spirituality of God, because God is never material, and is not controlled by man. So don’t bow down to anything short of God, divine Life, Truth, Love, Mind Soul, Spirit, Principle.
That means no bowing down to drugs, diet, exercise, riches, status, domination by others, the opinions of others, technology, faith in material methods, nor our own limited perspectives. You must surrender your own ego as a graven image, since you are not God. Don’t make other graven images either: diseases, symptoms, predictions, etc, nor serve them. Banish from thought all false images of reality: disasters, accidents, crime, shortage, addiction, etc. God made man in His own image, says the first chapter of Genesis, so reject false images, and certainly don’t serve them. Do this by embracing yourself and others as the true image and likenesses of God, even when evidence of that is not obvious. By doing so you will see and experience it more and more.
Also, this commandment reminds us that God is the only creator. We create only by reflection, and are not originators on our own terms.
#3.) Always respect God’s name. Blasphemy is not allowed, so stop swearing and cursing. Refrain from saying anything you don’t mean.This is huge in this day and age when slang says all sorts of things in opposites. Watch your mouth, and become strict about being positive, supportive, loving and kind. Also, acknowledging God’s genuine nature can never be in vain and must always bear fruit.
#4.) Rest on the seventh day and honor God. Take a day each week to pray and play. This is important. We all need Sabbath times. Both labor and rest are authorized and essential. Don’t do too much of one without the other. A six to one ratio between the two is the recommended balance. Keep furthering your purpose and don’t forget to recharge your batteries. Those who take time to rest work better than those who do not. We were not only created to work but also to stand in awe at the wonder of creation! Do not neglect worshipping God and be grateful regularly for all the good in your Life.
#5.) This commandment to respect your Mom and Dad shows the importance of family ties, but it also reminds us to honor God too, as our divine Father and Mother. Because it includes both relationships, this is a transitional commandment with a double meaning– to love and honor both God and our human parents.
If you have difficulty loving a parent for whatever reason, remember that God is your parent too, and love God as your way of being obedient to this commandment. God never asks us to love the unlovable, but instead we must look for a higher truth about them, and love that idea instead.
#6. ) Don’t hurt anyone. No killing, murder, or suicide allowed. This commandment is about protecting human life. You reflect God so how can you kill a reflection? Anger and contempt are murderous thoughts and are also not allowed. No killing of peace, or joy, or self-worth is allowed either. Life is not actually in matter so can’t be taken out of matter.
#7.) Be true to your husband or wife. No adultery nor lust is allowed. This protects the sacredness of marriage. To adulterate is to corrupt, debase, and make impure. Sex is not the only way we can be adulterated. We must avoid being adulterated by any falsehood. Gambling? Drunkenness? Drugs? These things can destroy relationships as well. We must keep our promises and commitments, and be loyal and loving to those that count on us.
#8.) Don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you. This commandment is the requirement of strict honesty. No stealing of any kind is allowed. Don’t steal all the attention. Don’t cheat, criticize, or plagiarize. Do more giving than getting, and get everything from God. Remember that “honesty is spiritual power.” This commandment also implies that thou shalt not be stolen from. So count on that and trust God, while being wise and not tempting others.
#9.) Never tell a lie or bear false witness, including to or against yourself. Anger, resentment, frustration, vilification, and criticism are false witnesses. Expose the falsity of false witnesses and unmask them to prove them impotent. We are all not guilty and are the loved children of God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
#10.) Don’t be jealous of what others have. Instead, be happy with what you do have! Thoughts matter, so have them be pure and uplifted. Desire is prayer, so avoid coveting by praying rightly. God has given all of us everything that we need and we can count on that. Anything that is spiritually true and good that anyone else has, you can know you also have as well. The Bible tells us that “God is no respecter of persons.” God bestows good impartially, but we all can reflect more of God than we do.
We all include all of God’s qualities and attributes. If there is something we think we want or need, there are more of those Godlike qualities and attributes that we need to bring to bear on our situation. If someone has something you want, what spiritual qualities and attributes are they exhibiting that is bringing that to them? This will give you a clue as to what to work on then in yourself. Also you must remember that matter is not what it seems, and it is not really what you want or what will satisfy you, regardless of how you think it might.
Love God and keep the commandments, and love your neighbor as yourself. This sums up your whole duty.
I understand that these are tall orders. They are not meant to be easy, just imperative. I have definitely broken all of these commandments at some time or another, in some degree or another, but I am getting better and closer to keeping them faultlessly.
God appreciates our efforts in this direction, and rewards it. The closer I live to these commandments, I have noticed the better my life becomes. And while it is a continuous effort, goodness is natural to all of us when we are alert and not deluded.
If everyone in the world could actually congregate around these old but perceptive guidelines, there would literally be peace on earth. That is why I teach them– for the hope of happiness for each individual, for global survival of this planet, and for the glory of our one and only shared God.
While this commentary contains many useful insights, it should be noted that St Paul, a devout student of the Law, acknowledged that he couldn’t keep it. Most important, though, he said that the Law does not supply the power to
This help me for my test to study
I hope you don’t mind me sharing your commentary as a lesson in my art room. I am going to have my students write out the Ten Commandments in calligraphy and go over each one as a discussion using your explanations. This is perfect for my 6th through 8th graders! Thank you for sharing this wisdom about the Law that sets us free! Art teacher at a private school in Texas.