Thinking of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, put forth by God in Exodus 20, with positive wording is enlightening as well as refreshing. If “rewritten” positively, the Ten Commandments might appear as such:
1) Worship Me and only Me
2) I AM, all that you need to worship
3) Speak of my Name in reverent and loving ways
4) Rest for everyone and all creatures all day every seventh day
5) Honor your father and mother
6) You will promote life in all that you do in every situation
7) You will be faithful to your spouse
8) You will give all that you are able
9) You will always tell the truth in everything you do
10) You will be content with all that you have regardless of how much anyone else has.
This list not only represents what may be considered a positive spin on the list of the Ten Commandments, but it is also a list of the characteristics searched for in a potential spouse, family, teachers, friends, spiritual leaders and anyone in which a considerable amount of time is spent. Commandment 8, you will always give and commandment 10, you will be content with all you have are the 2 commandments I would like to discuss.
Do ALL that you can and give ALL that you can. This theory is that if everyone gives all that they can and does all that they are capable, the world would be a different place. Turning the commandment “do not steal” into a commandment of “give all that you can” speaks volumes. Paul writes about this very positive nature of the eighth commandment, “Thieves must give up stealing … work honestly … so as to have something to share with the needy” (Eph. 4:28). Giving to people in society who cannot support themselves is a repetitive command throughout the Bible. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God … to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) is a description of this giving nature that God loves. Giving of oneself is not always defined as a monetary measurement. Some things that can be given in place of money are time, advice, help, knowledge and friendship. These are just a few of the many things that can be given with a missional attitude.
As for the tenth commandment, the idea of turning “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exod. 20:17) into “be content with all you have regardless of what anyone else has” turns an anxious situation into a peaceful scenario. It is so easy to fall prey to the American expression of keeping up with the Joneses. Someone may think, I see it, I like it and I want it too. If I do not get it then others are somehow superior to me within the culture that we live. These are thoughts that may cause uneasiness within the realm of discontentment with possessions. If someone is content with all they have, how could they possibly want more? It is written, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment … but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). With discontentment there also comes unnecessary cultural pressure to be superior. Wanting something that is not already owned, if there is not the means to acquire the particular desired item, may cause undue anxiety. Being content with everything that is currently under stewardship gives a sense of calmness and tranquility and keeps the godly person from sin. It is commanded by Paul to “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). With contentment comes peace.
It is amazing that the Ten Commandments are relevant in today’s American society just as much as they were in the ancient Israelite society. Although the people of today’s American society may not treat the Decalogue with the same reverence as the ancient Israelites, it does not take away from the fact that these commandments have shaped the fabric of our culture, legal system and social morays. They have been passed down through the ages in these areas of every society and culture. Giving to the oppressed and being content with a simpler lifestyle, are just a couple of many trending topics in religion, politics and among social justice advocates. It makes sense to put the positive spin on them from a theological point of view so that society is capable of appreciating the forgiving love and mercy of the sovereign God who wrote the laws.