I’m getting ready this morning to lead my Sonshine Park group of 4th grade boys in their lesson. This week it’s about Moses and the Ten Commandments. Yeah, I know right? How many times do we have to go over that one?
Well, let me tell you how many times–until we get it right. I amaze myself with my ability to know and understand the commandments, yet fail to follow them for even a whole day. Oh, I can get through the day without killing anyone, but sometimes think homicidal thoughts about someone truly hateful. I’ve remained adultery-free…except for that annoying line in Matthew when Jesus said that to even look upon a woman lustfully is adultery. I try not to covet, but I sure do love the new truck my neighbor just came home with.
It’s not an easy plan to follow. But the point I’m supposed to make to my group today isn’t the requirement to follow God’s law. It’s not a requirement for salvation. That’s why Jesus died in our place. Heaven would have been a lonely place if He hadn’t made that sacrifice.
No, the point I intend to stress is that these laws were made to make us happier. This is a tough pill for most adults. Wait ’til I spring it on the boys. It will take some modern translation and embellishment.
For example, covetousness is simply our desire to have something that we have no need for or have not earned. I’d say it’s like blowing all my allowance money on a PS3 game, only to get bored with it after a month, then have no money to spend on the school trip to Cedar Point.
On the adult level, I’d say covetousness and deep debt go hand in hand. We want things for which we have no money, so we whip out the Visa. After we have everything we think we want or need, we discover we still want more, the stuff we bought is not very useful, and we can’t pay back what we owe.
God didn’t punish us for breaking the “do not covet” commandment. He doesn’t have to. We do a fine job of punishing ourselves.
This is a tough lesson to teach pre-teens. I know every one of them will go home after the lesson, see that new PS3 game advertised on Nickelodeon, and get that burning desire to get it NOW. While I believe that most of the parents in my church can resist the sales tactics of their kids, I see it’s not so with a larger percentage of parents every year.
If parents understood that giving their kids everything they desire is not loving them, but feeding their future addiction to covetousness, then maybe common sense would prevail. But what I see is an entire society falling into disarray because these basic principles are no longer taught at a young age. Now more and more kids are learning that they can have it all. They deserve to have everything they desire. And they shouldn’t have to work any harder than anyone else to have it.
Maybe those aren’t the words we’re using, but what do our actions say? Do we tell our kids “no” then buy a new TV with the credit card? Do we complain that we “can’t get ahead” even though we’ve made one bad decision after another?
The Ten Commandments aren’t there to keep us in line. They exist to keep us happy in the world we inhabit. If we followed them, government would be unnecessary. Wouldn’t that be a blessing?
So I won’t skim over them like I normally do. I’ll ask myself, as I ask the children, how do I live this?