Exodus 20:1–17 (NRSV)
Read Exodus 20:1–17 on biblegateway.com
Chapter 20Then God spoke all these words: Verse 2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; Verse 3you shall have no other gods before me. Verse 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Verse 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, Verse 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. Verse 7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Verse 8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Verse 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. Verse 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work-you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. Verse 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Verse 12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Verse 13You shall not murder. Verse 14You shall not commit adultery. Verse 15You shall not steal. Verse 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Verse 17You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
What guarantees our safety, health, and flourishing, even amidst diseases, disasters, and interpersonal or societal conflicts? The Ten Commandments, which Jesus concisely summarized with two great commands: Love the Lord your God with the totality of your being, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
These commands create the conditions for trustworthy relationships; they make clear that genuine love never compromises truth or justice. They free us to rebuff all false gods incapable of generating life within and among us—including the gods of wealth, fame, and power, and any human or creaturely thing that we allow to consume our energy and suck up our attention. Moreover, by rejecting any action that would violate the sacrosanct dignity of human beings, they keep us from turning others into a means for our ends, just as they call us to resist anyone who would turn us into a means for their ends.
O God, help us recognize the false gods in our lives so that we can respect and care for others with the same love that enables us to respect and care for ourselves. Amen.