What are the Commandments?

Virtue of the 10 CommandmentsThe Commandments (ca. 1800 BC), given to the Hebrew people about 3,500 years ago (Ex 324:27-28), are like the instructions to a child as an ice cream truck drives up: “Don’t run into the street!” – they are short and direct. The Commandments should be seen in the light of the rest of scripture to draw out the richness of their meaning. They’ve been called humanity’s original “owners manual.”

1. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.

We’ll be disappointed if we look to anyone but our creator for what we really need.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Showing respect for the One you love is a way to keep the relationship healthy.

3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Putting aside unnecessary distractions for one day a week keeps us grounded. It helps us avoid drifting away from God, which is the worst thing that can happen to us. If we drift away from Him, we end up losing sight of ourselves, too.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

Showing respect to parents, through whom earthly life was given to us, grows out of our respect for God, who offers us eternal life.

5. You shall not kill.

We do not have the right to take innocent life or to undermine another’s dignity. Loving acceptance of others and remembering our own faults is the cure for critical or vengeful thoughts.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

A marriage is made with a fidelity that mirrors God’s eternal loyalty to His promises. Violating that promise damages something deeply sacred.

7. You shall not steal.

Everyone has a right to his own property; I don’t have a right to take it without permission.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

I don’t have a right to take away someone’s life or reputation by lying.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Marriage is a sacred bond that I don’t have the right to damage. I am infringing on that bond by even visualizing adultery.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

If I keep my mind on my own business, enjoying what I have, it will be easier to love my neighbor and remain happy by avoiding envy.