Rules never establish relationship. God chose to be the God of the Hebrews before any rules were established. If you really believe that, it will take pressure off your life. It all started with grace when God said, “I’m going to choose you even though you did nothing to deserve it”. God wants us to live in peace and joy, having His way of life, so that others will see Who He is. Can you imagine a way of life where everybody respects the image of God in everybody else, and we all treat each other with dignity? A way of life where we are all generous and share with everybody else? Can you imagine a life where that happens? The world would line up to be a part of it. When God gave us the gift of the Ten Commandments, they were about teaching us that we are important, that we can be safe. The commandments were handed down to the Israelites not so they could be ‘good’, but to make them free. Before they escaped from Egypt, any Egyptian could come in and take anything the Israelites owned. They could rape their wives. The Hebrews were not safe. How much freedom must have come when God now said to them that they could not steal? Suddenly their property was their own for the first time in their lives. No one could steal it from them. There is incredible security in that.
Think of the saying, “You shall have no other gods before me”, as similar to a marriage covenant. God could be saying to us, “If you’re going to be married to Me you can’t have any other boyfriends / girlfriends”. That’s fair enough. The second commandment was telling us not to make idols. In other words, “If we’re going to be married don’t carry pictures of past girlfriends or boyfriends around in your wallet”. How about, “Don’t take My name in vain”. In other words, “If we’re going to be married, you have power of attorney on My name. Don’t sign checks I wouldn’t sign”. And what about remembering the Sabbath? In other words, “If we’re going to be married, for one day a week it’s just you and Me”. It starts with grace.
God tells us that He’s not here to make us good, that’s too much pressure. He’s not here to make us right; He’s already made us right. He’s already chosen a relationship with us. What God is saying through His top ten is that He is here to make us free and to give us dignity.
Let’s choose to see God’s words as there were intended for us – a way to live the best possible life.