Sunday, August 17, 2014

Keys to Right Living, Series Finale

In our study of the keys to right living, we have remaining the list of "Thou shalt nots."  While these directives are couched in the negative, they are really admonitions to eschew those things which are harmful to ourselves and others.  It is all good.

Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet.  These admonitions are virtually universal, that is, respected as proper regulations to be observed in all societies.  The discussion of universal moral precepts was covered in Ethics 201 sixty and more years ago.  It is of mere academic interest that there are or have been social groups in various places which have not considered one or more of these to be required guides for living.  Such societies are either insignificant or defunct.

Since these rules are pretty much self-explanatory, and since most people have an ingrained sense of the value of living by them, even those who violate them, we are not going to explore each commandment in depth.  We will conclude our study of the ten commandments, though, by focussing a bit on the tenth.  I find it interesting that the "Thou shalt not covet" is followed by a specific list of things that covetousness must not touch, but then wraps up the listing  with an all-inclusive "nor anything that is thy neighbors."  Doubles the emphasis.

Many of us, I fear, are like Jerry Clower's buddy, Marcel Ledbetter.  You may recall that Jerry related the story in which they passed a fabulous pickup truck.  Marcel said, Whooee! I wish I had that pickup truck.  Jerry told him, That is a sin.  To covet is a sin.  You say, "I wish I had a pickup like that one."

All right, said Marcel, I wish I had a pickup like that one.  But if the only way I can get it is take his and him walk, I'd take his.

Our study of the commandments begs the question "Why were we given such directives?"  We were given these commandments of God not to place us in bondage, but to set us free!  To live by these precepts is to be free from the slavery of fear, and unforgiveness, and besetting sins that lead us into captivity and anguish of spirit.

To imagine, though, that we can follow these guidelines in our own strength and without God is folly.  It is only in His strength which he gives us in salvation through Jesus Christ that we will be able to live such a life of freedom.


Vee said...

Why is it that people rebel against negative commands that are for their good and for the good of others? Even if the commandments were presented without using "Thou shalt not...," we would need Christ in our lives in order to overcome temptations.

When I was teaching, I had a principal who asked us to frame as many rules as possible in positive terms. He felt that this would cause students to be less rebellious toward them.

I had three rules that I introduced and explained to the students: 1) Be polite - this covered all of the territory related to interactions with others. 2) Whisper - this rule eliminated the need for sneaking to communicate. They could whisper something to a neighbor except when doing so would cause disrespect to another or during a test. 3) Share - this covered a lot of territory and made them aware that sharing is an act of generosity.

My students were told, "There is no pencil sharpening rule, so, if a pencil is dull or breaks, go sharpen it." (This was my reaction to the times in my childhood when my pencil broke and I tried to pick away the wood in order to expose the lead. I didn't want to be yelled at by the sharpener patrol (aka teacher). My bathroom guidelines were: If you need to go to the bathroom, pick up the pass, show it to me, and walk out, but if you are going to barf, hold your hand over your mouth and run to the bathroom. No pass required.

So what brought all of this on? Oh, yes. Rules.

vanilla said...

Vee, there seems to be implanted within us a rebellious nature, an antipathy to being told "no." We just naturally have to "taste of the forbidden fruit." There can be no other explanation for the human proclivity to act so, to the harm of oneself.

Sharkbytes said...

Yup, just tell me NO, and that's what I want to do. Hopefully, not so much now that I'm "grown up."

vanilla said...

Sharkey, we humans are a hard-headed lot, are we not?