Christianity 201

July 22, 2022

Honor and Contentment

The person who follows Christ might look to the “household codes” in Paul’s writing or the Sermon on the Mount when seeking a better understanding of the ethical or moral standards implicit in living a Christian life. However, lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the primary behavioral standards in the First Testament, namely the Ten Commandments.

As a friend pointed out to me a few years back, it’s really the Fourteen Commandments, especially if you write them out that way:

1. No other gods except Yahweh
2a. Don’t manufacture objects of worship
2b. If you see such objects, don’t worship them
3. Honor God’s name
4a. Honor God’s day; don’t work
4b. Don’t compel your family, servants (employees), animals to work it, either
4c. For the other six days, you will work
5. Honor your parents (grandparents, heritage, legacy you’ve received)
6. No murder
7. Honor your marriage vows (and those of another)
8. No theft
9. Honor the value of truth
10a. Don’t crave the things that aren’t yours
10b. Don’t crave the spouse that isn’t yours

In addition to the redistribution of the various clauses, you’ll notice that I’ve also picked up on the traditional English rendering of the 5th commandment and imported the word honor (or honour for my UK/Canadian/Aussie readers) into a few other lines. I could have done this with the first one as well, ‘Honor Yahweh above all others.’

The 4th one is interesting in that there is much discussion in Evangelicalism right now about the discipline of Sabbath, but 4c clearly states “Six days shalt thou work.” (KJV) There is a command to get a job. In our world that might be a 5-day week or it might be a combination of two part-time positions, or even several in today’s ‘gig economy.’ Is see commandment 4c as often overlooked, and it’s hard for a pastor to lean into this knowing that there are people listening to the sermon who have been trying to obtain work for many weeks or months, but without success.

I do think that even if one is basically unemployed, there are ways to be productive, through volunteer work or perhaps self-improvement through taking a few courses. I’d argue that in our 5-day work week world, the Christian has an interesting responsibility in terms of what they do with that 6th day. Some might say, well that’s a day to play and relax and enjoy some recreation. But I believe that it’s possible to see recreation as ‘re-creation’ that is perfectly fitting within a view of Sabbath.

Unfortunately, some denominations clouded that viewpoint with rules that prohibited Christians from playing sports or going swimming on Sunday. I realize that organized sports (particularly for children and teens) is contributing to serious attendance losses by churches, but I would want to be convinced that there’s a greater value in simply doing nothing. (Okay, you can read a Christian book; you can pray as a family; you can attend a second church service, but then what?) And how is watching movies on Netflix any more spiritual than a friendly game of baseball or soccer?

I digressed there.
Let’s get back to work.
(Pun intended.)

As I looked at the commandments closer, I saw how integrated three of them were.

4c. For six days you should work
8. Don’t take what belongs to others
10a. Don’t crave what others have.

If you work, you don’t need to steal and you don’t need to be consumed with desire for what other people own.

So finally, at the very end, we come to the verse which motivated me to spell all this out today; a verse that appeared on my NIV Bible App two days ago:

NIV.Deut.8.18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Thanking the Lord that we have the means to produce wealth, really brings us back to that first commandment about honoring God.

The commandments can all be written in terms of honor and the life that honors God is a life that will be content in whatever situation. (Phil 4:11)

Elsewhere at Christianity 201:

*This one does what we did today expressing the ten in terms of honor, and does it expressing the ten in terms of stealing. There’s a graphic image on this you might want to save, or use on your social media.


If you wish some review, here’s God’s top ten as rendered by Eugene Peterson in The Message Bible.

Ex. 20.1-2 God spoke all these words:

I am God, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of a life of slavery.

No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

12 Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

13 No murder.

14 No adultery.

15 No stealing.

16 No lies about your neighbor.

17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.

Fun evangelism exercise:

The next time someone says to you, “I’m a good person, I keep the Ten Commandments;” reply, “Okay … name them.”

Most people will start with the “second tablet” of commandments (don’t kill; don’t steal) and may not consider the ones about putting God first.

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