Making the right choices - Ten Words

In this new series of blogs, I will be looking at a code to help us make good choices – personally, and for our family, business and society.

One of the most famous sections in the Bible—indeed, one of the most important pieces of literature in the whole world can be found in Exodus 20 ; often called the Ten Commandments. Oddly enough, the Bible does not call them ’the Ten Commandments,’ but ‘The Ten Words.’

These ‘Ten Words’ that God gave the Israelites at Mount Sinai form the basis for making the right choices. They form the foundation on which to make the right practical, moral and ethical decisions.

These ‘Ten Words’ are the only utterances of God which were actually written personally by His own fingers! They reflect divine ideals for all human behaviour. They serve to point out the major areas in which we fall short. Want to know pitfalls along the way? The Ten Words are markers near the harbour, or buoys in a sea, to help us navigate around the dangerous rocks and bring us safely home. They serve to point us to Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

We too often think of the Ten Words as constraining us—as if God’s ways will keep us in servitude and from realizing our dreams and reaching our potential. We forget that God means to give us abundant life (John 10:10) and true freedom (John 8:32). His laws are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) but is called ‘the perfect law of liberty!’ (James 1:25)

God isn’t trying to crush us with red tape and regulations. The Ten Words aren’t prison bars, but traffic laws. Many times, we wish that there weren’t any traffic laws, and some drive as though there weren’t! Traffic laws enable us to move about in total freedom – providing we adhere to the laws.

There is no such thing as absolute freedom. There is only freedom within a set of restraints. Otherwise there would be complete chaos and anarchy.

This excerpt from a poem by the Irish poet W.B Yeates, (“The Second Coming”) describes our times quite well.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”   

We do have the revelation of the Ten Words. These will give our lives a strong centre to hold everything together and set us free from anarchy.

Before listing the ‘ought-to-do’s’ we have to address the ‘already-done’s.’ Freedom comes from deliverance from bondage and in the introduction to the Ten Words, we hear how deliverance by the mighty hand of God provided freedom for more than two million souls. In their freedom, they were called to live holy, righteous and obedient lives.

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)

We have been set free by Jesus Christ, to love and serve Him and our neighbours. Our freedom as disciples will be maintained by following His Words. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(John 8:32)

I was astounded last week to hear of a former aide to the US president talk about ‘alternative truth.’ In other words, she meant that her truth was just as valid as your truth. This is anarchy – the absence of authority. This leads us into the first of the Ten Words, which establishes the source of truth and authority –

Word # 1: “You shall have no other gods but me.’ ... to be continued ...