17 Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.
7 So what are we going to say? That the Law is sin? Absolutely not! But I wouldn’t have known sin except through the Law. I wouldn’t have known the desire for what others have if the Law had not said, Don’t desire to take what others have. [Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21] 8 But sin seized the opportunity and used this commandment to produce all kinds of desires in me. Sin is dead without the Law. 9 I used to be alive without the Law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life, 10 and I died. So the commandment that was intended to give life brought death.
“Buzz, you've got wings! You glow in the dark! You talk! Your helmet does that, that... whoosh thing! You are a cool toy! As a matter of fact, you're too cool.” *
It’s easy for Christians to brush past the tenth commandment, almost to see it as a “throwaway” just filling out the round number 10. Yet that commandment said in very simple form what Jesus said more broadly in his Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28). The apostle Paul, a rigorous, rigid Pharisee before he met Jesus, said it was the tenth commandment that made him realize he, too, was a sinner.
- The tenth commandment dealt, not with outward actions, but with the heart’s thoughts and wishes. It said God cares not just about what we do, but about what we seriously wish we could do. It’s not a sin to admire someone else’s nice things. But has that admiration ever turned into an almost obsessive wish that you could have something (or someone) someone else has? In what ways has God helped you learn to draw back from that kind of extreme, harmful wanting?
- A mirror can show us things about ourselves we couldn’t otherwise see, but no one washes their face with a mirror. Jesus' brother James compared God’s law to a mirror (cf. James 1:23-24). In Romans 7, Paul said the tenth commandment showed him that, proud as he was of his Pharisaic outward righteousness (cf. Philippians 3:4-7), he needed a Savior as much as any other sinner. When have you had moments of insight into things that needed to change inside you?
Lord Jesus, thank you that your Holy Spirit didn’t just work in the heart of a great man like Paul. You work in my heart and mind, too, and I thank you for that even when at first your work may hurt as it challenges me to grow. Amen.
* Woody expressing why Buzz made him insecure, from http://www.disneyquotes.com/toy-story-quotes/
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Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.