Rules and Commandments

March 7, 2021

Exodus 20:1-17 | 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 | John 2:13-22 | Psalm 19

Throughout the many stages of life one meets the rules prescribed for that age and that moment. It is our response and adherence to these rules in particular situations that will form us into our world. Some of them will reinforce growth while others will make us cautious and create frustration. Each one will be a set of steps that will ultimately pin us against ourselves to do what’s right or necessary even when there is no clear benefit. Some are placed there to achieve a goal but knowing that does not make them easier to follow. An example of this is my 1800 calorie diet and foods I must stay away from although their calling is strong, and maybe just a little bend…see suddenly a rule has elasticity.

Another interesting fact about rules is that as you age some will grow along with you and many will be discarded as new updated rules come about. Another point of contention is that some of these rules transcend culture, time, or location like the one about waiting to swim after eating. (I always thought that was because you are heavier so you sink but I was told by a coworker it was because you get sleepy). Some rules were set by the United Federation of Moms – this particular very militant organization still causes flinching in a full-grown adult if they are breaking a rule in front their mother. They too set these laws to achieve a goal so that they can be proud to show you off to their siblings or neighbors. The most important and life changing ones were nicknamed “Golden Rules”. The real ones, not the one in placed in the middle of my college dorm wall that read, “ The Golden Rule” – Ski to die and die to ski…

Those rules are stated in Exodus 20:1-17. They begin with “Then God spoke all these words:” and even if you never open that book you know that there 10 of them and further enhanced with a title of “commandments” thus placing them in the realm of expectation, laws and unbending requisites or requirements for general living. Here they are in list form without the fire and brimstone special effects…

  1. You shall have no other Gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourselves an idol
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
  5. Honor your father and your mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not give false testimony 
  10. You shall not covet

Seeing them this way gives them a simple look into what may be an excellent guide to a good life. But following them can become a traffic jam full of detours. I will give you my personal rundown. 1 and 2 can be easily achieved if everyone in your family is of the same faith and you are not too into knickknacks. 3 is hard as I am not too sure when I break that rule, but maybe I would like a more educated ruling on my discretions. 4 I can do easily as it is rest right?…unless there is a chore list. 5 just maybe the easiest of them all to follow.  The rest with the exception of 9 and 10 have no bearing in my life as I have a hard time killing a spider or adding another person to my life who I have to try to please…I mean who has time? Unfortunately I was not blessed with a poker face to work around 9. The covet one catches me all the time. It’s my neighbor’s lawn, the one who not only has the professional landscaper to take care of it but then feels the need to go and perfect their work. As my neighbor puts his lawn to bed I look at a lawn full of hardy local species (weeds, crabgrass) with dotted archeological digs performed by our dogs…is when I really enter my full covet phase. As for me this abridged version has always been easier to follow into a happier life.

When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40)

As far as this trying year has gone I find my adherence to the rules have grown and adapted to this life. I find I no longer covet the green grass of my neighbors, way too much stress, but rather I enjoy the wagging butts greeting me when I get home. Not to mention how fortunate and grateful I am to be in this life. Hopefully it has done the same for you. 

Geo Borgia