I’ve got a thought. Well, I’ve thought it through before often. Curious?
I guess so, sure.
I’ve thought before about the *dun-dun-duhhhnn* 10 commandments.
Ok. What about them?
I have often thought something like: the “essence” of the 10 commandments was “don’t cheat.” Seems you could take all 10 and fit them in “don’t cheat.”
Hm. I don’t think I agree, but ok. Go on.
Well, don’t cheat on your wife, don’t steal or lie for yourself, honoring the Sabbath is like not cheating on God. But… hmm, honoring parents is different than cheating, I think…
Yeah. Doesn’t really fit. Besides, I think that the word “cheating” would need to be carefully defined. For instance (and I may be wrong here), but I think that it wasn’t until fairly recently that we started using the phrase “cheating on” to mean adultery or whatever. But that’s really not the point-
Good point, but yeah I didn’t mean it like that. Maybe, actually, don’t be selfish. I’ve thought of that before too. It has a motive in it, you know.
Ok, that makes a little more sense. I think that would fit better. But still it doesn’t feel quite right to me. I mean, take the first commandment: “no other gods.” I think if someone—say, an Israelite who would have heard the 10 commandments when they were first given—if he worshipped other gods, it wouldn’t necessarily be selfishness, even though it would still be sin. He might think he was being unselfish by giving extra sacrifices or whatever, you know? So, yeah, I think it’s closer, but we’re not there yet.
Well, what got me thinking of all this in the first place… You see, all the commandments seem as though they could be summarized by the last commandment (don’t envy). Sort of. I mean, none of them really contain an inward motive, or emotion, or choice. I could honor my parents outwardly, or I could not murder and steal and lie, yet it could all be outward. But the last commandment is necessarily and only inward. So yeah, we need, as Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount, inward obeying commands. Or, that is, the inward thoughts must conform to the outward actions as well. And it seems that only the last commandment does this. But these thoughts of mine, as you can probably tell, are incomplete…
OK. So far, we’ve gone from “Don’t cheat” to “Don’t be selfish” to “Don’t envy.” And-
Yes, it’s a rollercoaster in my head!
Seems that way. But I think all that mental anguish you’re putting yourself through is unnecessary. If the goal is to find one commandment that sums up all 10, we already have someone who’s done it for you. And, if you’ll notice, all the summaries you’ve come up with so far are negative—don’t, don’t, don’t.
Well then, DO be selfless! No, just kidding 🙂 OK, go on.
Haha! That was kind of funny.
You’re welcome. But what I’m saying is, there’s no need for us to summarize the commandments, because Jesus already did that. “What is the greatest commandment?” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” And remember what He said next? “On these two hang all the law and the prophets.” So, there’s the only summary you need. And, unlike what we’ve suggested so far, these commandments are positive, not negative: “DO love.”
Yes, that’s correct. Hmm… Yeah, I’ve thought of that before. You’re right. It’s just that, for some reason, it really really seems that there should be one single all-encompassing summary. Seems weird that-
Ok, one single thing? Here it is: love.
But as we’ve often said, there are unbelievers who are unselfish, who love. . .
But as you also often say, our concept of love, as a culture, is way off. I doubt whether it’s possible to really love, as Christ means it, without knowing His love in you. But anyway, that’s not the point either. The thing is, you CAN boil it all down to love, as long as, when you do so, you understand that that love has to take two routes: upward, to God, and outward, to others. We can think of examples of people who loved God to such an extent that they couldn’t even see their fellow men anymore, and people who loved others so much that they neglected God. So you have to have both.
Now I want to say, “But if you love God, you must/would necessarily love others”. But (again) as I often say, we are humans. Our ways are not His ways, we see through a glass dimly. So yes—as humans on earth, since we don’t have all knowledge nor an all-loving heart, we need (as it were) reminders—love your fellow man, and love God. Yes, I totally agree.
Right. And it may be true that if you love God, you will also love His creation (people), but I don’t think it’s automatic. I think it’s true that the more we grow in His love, the better able we are to love others. And that may be one reason that the commandment to love God is given as having a higher precedence than loving your neighbors. So having both serves as a reminder, as you put it, that we have to love in two ways.
Yes, that sounds good 🙂