I did read Acts 18:1-23 today, but I also read the Old Testament lection for Sunday, and I'm going to write about that today.
Exodus 20:1-17--The Ten Commandments
So, maybe we don't think of the Ten Commandments as anything that interesting to write about, but I actually think they are. For all the hoopla people make about them, I wonder how many could actually list them all. How many of us actually follow them, too? They may seem like basic rules, but they're not really all easy to follow. You can let me know if you disagree.
We convince ourselves that we're doing the first two pretty well--having no other gods and worshiping no idols--but I'm not always convinced of that, in my own life, at least. There are always lots of things that distract us from God, and I believe that we sometimes just worship them, in one way or another. I mean, I went to Duke Divinity School. When people crack the old "Duke Chapel isn't the only place people worship at Duke" joke, it's not entirely a joke...
So, we move on to the third commandment: don't use God's name frivolously. I'm sometime surprised at how I let this one slip. I never used to, when I was younger, but my habits have changed as I've found myself living and working around different people. I'd really like to break myself of this again, and reading this scripture makes that sound like a really good idea!
Ah, the fourth commandment--keep the Sabbath day holy. I probably shouldn't even get started on how much contemporary culture's disregard for this bothers me. Honestly, it's not even so much that so many people don't go to church that gets to me. What concerns me so much is the inability we have to ever stop and rest. I'm not exempt from the temptation to work, work, work, all the time, but I try to guard some time for rest and re-connection with God. Isn't there value in stopping everything for a day or so, every now and then? Do we really need stores that are open 24 hours a day, or stores that are open 365 days a year? Couldn't we all take a breather??
Moving on, we have the command to "honor your father and mother," which my study Bible says actually means to take care of parents in their old age. If that's the case, we have completely misrepresented this commandment for centuries. Also, if that's the case, there are a lot of people not following this one. I get frustrated when older members of a church are not being cared for by children who are capable of doing so. I won't preach about that here, though.
We might think that "do not kill" is pretty cut and dried, but some of your translations say "do not murder," instead, and that's where there's some debate.
"Do not commit adultery...Do not steal." Well, you get the point there.
I was always raised to believe that "do not bear false witness" just meant do not lie. It really is more of an injunction against slander, though, right? Don't drag someone's name through the mud and abuse it. Earlier, we were told not to do that with God's name. It makes sense that we shouldn't do that with others, too. I wonder if this means that I need to learn to speak more positively about people, even when I disagree with them. Probably so.
Finally, we're told not to desire what's not ours. My study Bible notes that this was meant for people who have wealth not to take advantage of people who don't. That's not really the way we boil it down for our kids, though, and it has a lot more implications for all of us who "have," if we look at it that way. The end game is not to amass wealth, and especially not at the cost of others.
Well, that's probably a closer look at the Ten Commandments than I've taken for a long time. I know of preachers who do whole sermon series on these, one at a time, though, so maybe this is something to keep in mind...