Having given you a preview of the fifth through the tenth commandments (Ten Commandments: Pre-Summary of #5 through #10) before I addressed them individually, it’s now appropriate, having covered them individually, to summarize them…and to show the thread that holds them together for us.
- God is love.
- You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
- 1 – You shall have no other gods before Me.
- 2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- 3 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- 4 – Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
- You shall love your neighbor as yourself; that is, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
- 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 bear false witness against your neighbor.
- 10 – You shall not covet.
- We love because He first loved us.
Let’s begin our review of commandments five through ten as Moses gave them. Through this lens we can see that they basically require us to honor our parents, which means obeying them while we are growing up, and living in a way that brings credit to them as adults (#5), and this would include not being a burden or bother to other people (#6-#10).
Think about those last five commandments (#6-#10). If I don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet what someone else has then I will not have brought shame on my parents. Those commandments cover the major areas of human interaction in which problems occur. Thus keeping them means that my life won’t have become a problem to someone else’s life. My parents will not be shamed.
Whereas Moses’ focus was that we should seek to not be a negative for others (not be a subtraction to their lives), through Jesus these commandments blossom into more than just the avoidance of evil. They become the practice of good. That is, we should seek to be a positive for others (an addition to their lives). Rather than merely avoiding being a curse to others, we should seek to be a blessing to them.
With Moses, it was more of a “live and let live” approach to life. With Jesus, it becomes a “lay down your life for the sake of others” approach. For this reason, Jesus’ extolled the behavior of the good Samaritan who interrupted his own life to serve someone else’s interrupted life. With Moses, it was about not interfering with the lives of others as you sought to live your own life; with Jesus, it’s about giving up your own life so that you can live completely for the benefit of others.
By the way, I’m not suggesting that living according to Moses’ view would make us uncaring toward others. I’m speaking comparatively; I’m sharpening the distinction between the two. Moses gave the commandments more as directions to avoid doing wrong to a neighbor, whereas Jesus interpreted them as essential aspects of actively doing good to neighbors.
To make His point, Jesus summarizes the human-interactions commandments (#5-#10), if we can call them that, as “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and also as “Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” These two statements represent the same summary principle being viewed from opposite perspectives. Let me explain.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” begins with thinking about how you treat yourself and then projecting that same level of care outward toward others. It says, “the love you naturally show yourself, show others, too.” For example, self-preservation comes naturally to us. Jesus is saying that we should seek to preserve others just as we seek to preserve ourselves.
“Treat people the same way you want them to treat you” begins the opposite way – with thinking about what you want coming toward you from the outside and then letting that shape what proceeds from within you outward toward others. It says, “The love you want shown you, show to others.” For example, you hope people will do good to you, so you should do good to them…even if they don’t live up to your hopes.
Because these are just two different perspectives on the same principle, they will result in the same motivations and the same behavior. That is, whether you “love your neighbor as yourself” or “treat others the way you want them to treat you,” the outcome will be the same.
Jesus is making sure we understand Him by communicating to us the same commandment in different words. He’s paraphrasing Himself. And He also giving us detail so that we don’t go astray from His fundamental meaning. By that I mean, for example, that no one can say he loves his neighbor if he’s hating him, stealing from him, lying to him, etc. This should be self-evident but there are people today who, for example, justify the normalization of homosexual and honor “same-sex marriage” on the basis that Jesus said “Treat others as you want to be treated” – as if Jesus taught nothing about sexuality and just wanted to be sure everyone was being equally licentious.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Treat others as you want to be treated” include keeping the Ten Commandments because they summarize the Ten Commandments. In fact, if there were no other commandments, those two summary commandments would be practically meaningless. That is, they work as summary commandments but they would not work as standalone commandments. As standalone commandments, they would amount to “Doing whatever you think is right is acceptable to God as long as you let everyone else do what they think is right” – in other words, “Let everyone do what is right in his own eyes.” That would be anarchy.
To sum up the summary, Jesus gives shape and direction to the commandments having to do with human interaction (#5-#10) by summarizing them as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Treat others as you want to be treated.” At the same time, He gives substance and meaning to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Treat others as you want to be treated” by the detail of the fifth through the tenth commandments.
If you want to know where to find all of these commandments in your own Bible, see the post Ten Commandments: Scriptural Locations which gives the chapter-and-verse reference for each commandment and statement in the outline.