Honor your father and your mother. Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false testimony. Do not covet.
The Ten Commandments can be divided into two tables: 1-4, and 5-10. The first table teaches us how to love God, and the second table teaches us how to love one another.
The fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents. To honor is to treat someone like they are very valuable and important. And that is true of our parents. Our parents take care of us, love us unconditionally, and teach us the Bible. How do we honor our parents? First, by obeying their commands. Proper obedience is immediate and respectful – do it right away with a good attitude. Second, we honor our parents by speaking respectfully to them, and about them. We must always respond to our parents with “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am”; we must never raise our voices at our parents; we must never say anything mean to them; and we must never say anything hurtful about them. Third, we honor our parents by seeking their blessing when we look for a spouse. And finally, we honor our parents by taking care of them in their old age.
The sixth commandment prohibits murder. There are times when killing is allowed. Soldiers may kill in war; the police may kill as they fight crime; and anyone may kill in self-defense. To murder is to intentionally kill a human being without just cause. Since God is the giver of life, only He has the right to take a life. Every human being is created in the image of God and is infinitely valuable to God. Therefore, we must not only avoid murder, we must also avoid injuring people and hating people, because these can lead to murder.
The seventh commandment prohibits adultery. To commit adultery is to have sexual relations outside of marriage. This includes extramarital sex, as well as pre-marital sex. God created sex only for the context of marriage between one man and one woman. We keep this command by striving for sexual purity in every way – with our actions, our thoughts, and our eyes. To avoid adultery we must strive to be fully pleasing to our marriage partner so that they are in no way tempted to go astray.
The eight commandment prohibits stealing. To steal is to take what does not belong to you. There is no excuse for stealing. It does not matter that the other person has more than enough; it does not matter that they won’t miss it; it does not matter how badly we need it. We must do what is right and trust God to meet our needs. To fully keep this command we must not merely avoid stealing, but also be respectful of the property of others, and be generous to those who do not have enough.
The ninth commandment prohibits false testimony. False testimony includes any kind of lying, dishonesty, and deceitfulness. God always tells the truth, and He created us to reflect His image by being truth-tellers. It is never okay to tell a lie. Tell the truth and trust God with the consequences.
The tenth commandment prohibits coveting. To covet is to desire what someone else has. It is to be dissatisfied with what God has given you. It is to rely on things for happiness rather than God. Instead, we must always be thankful and content with what God has given us, realizing that happiness comes from knowing God and not from gaining the things of this world.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the difference between the first table and the second table in the Ten Commandments?
- How can we honor our parents?
- What does it mean to avoid murder?
- What does it mean to avoid adultery?
- What does it mean to avoid stealing?
- What does it mean to avoid false testimony?
- What does it mean to avoid coveting?
For Further Study:
- Exodus 20:12-17
- Colossians 3:20-21
- Hebrews 13:4
- Genesis 9:6
- Exodus 20:23-24
- Ephesians 4:28
- Ephesians 4:25
- 1 Timothy 6:6-10