10 Basics of Relational Wholeness

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Read Exodus 20:17 (10th Commandment)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” 


The wrongful desire to have the possessions of another – covetousness. This commandment is a summary commandment that simply speaks to a wandering heart. If your heart and mind covet, and go unchecked, then the preceding boundaries (commandments 5-9) will be broken and your neighbor’s life, house, family, marriage and business are destroyed.  This commandment speaks to the heart preceding damaging actions and challenges us to have a heart righteously oriented for the good of others.

Let’s recap the 10 … and maybe you could memorize them, with the help of your fingers, as a family this weekend.

  1. Have no other gods before Me.
  2. Do not worship images or created things, I am a jealous God.
  3. Do not carry My name in emptiness.
  4. You have the privilege of a Sabbath rest in Me, treasure it.
  5. Don’t diss your Momma or your Daddy.
  6. Don’t murder or hurt one another.
  7. Don’t be unfaithful to one another.
  8. Don’t steal from one another.
  9. Don’t lie about one another.
  10. Don’t desire your neighbor’s stuff.

Notice the relational aspects of the Ten Commandments.

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The first four are about our relationship with God, while the next six are about our relationships with one another. Clearly, a loving God who made us from a loving relationship (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for loving relationships is concerned about the quality, character and care of our relationships. He insists that we be relationally protective of Him and one another.  As He is good to us, He commands that we be good to Him and to each other.

That’s the point. Do no harm to others. Do not relationally hurt others. Why? Because it is the antithesis of love. Hurt people hurt people, but love covers a multitude of sins. We are called, even as broken hurting people, to love one another. With our wounds and limitations, we must try to love as we have been loved. When we choose otherwise, we choose a cycle of destruction that leads to death.


Father, as we prepare to begin Holy Week, make us mindful of the boundaries you have given for our good and Your glory. May the cost of my rebellion – the suffering, humiliation and death of Jesus – lead my heart and mind to be good and kind to others, for my good and Your glory. AMEN.


I Have Nine Fingers & That’s A Lie

Friday, March 23, 2018

Read Exodus 20:16

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

As I mentioned before, God gave us 10 Commandments and 10 fingers – I think so we could have 10 handy reminders of these 10 relational guidelines. Relationships matter to a loving, relational God. And false witness against another is anti-relational.

Now I’ll confess, I titled this devotional with a lie; I ommitted one of my fingers. It’s 90% true, but still a lie. Is that a violation of this commandment? I think not, because I find no grounds on which that omission does you any harm. It may not be helpful in establishing my character as truthful, which only harms me.

This commandment, in keeping with the relational theme, has as it’s standard harm to another. My lie, though 90% accurate and harmless, is still a lie. Some would say this commandment forbids it, but I don’t think it does (though Col 3:9 and Eph 4:25 would).

Importantly, the focus of this commandment is a lie or mistruth about or to another that could unjustifiably harm them or others. Let me explain… It is justifiable if a man comes to my door with a weapon, threatening to harm my wife and family, to lie to him to protect my family. It is justifiable, if you serve the U.S. Military in the battlefield, to wear camouflage to intentionally deceive (lie to) your enemy – you must, otherwise, you and your fellow soldiers will be hurt. This commandment does not compel truth that puts others in the way of unnecessary harm, but it forbids lies that wound another whom you are called to love.

For example, if a car salesperson lies to a prospective customer (neighbor) to win his business, he has violated this commandment, putting his gain above his neighbor. If you speak a falsehood about a person (or a half/unsubstantiated truth), then you potentially wound the perception others have about their character and wound that person. The point is, we are forbidden from deceiving or potentially hurting others with untruths, when such untruths are not clearly justified to protect the innocent (or those engaged in a just war).

The New Testament axiom to cover our 10 fingers would be: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mk 12:31).  In other words, would I want to be talked about in this way or would I welcome this untruth as truly good for me? If the answer is no, then our mouths must at least be silent, or at best, speak the truth – for “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).  


Father, sometimes the truth is simple and sometimes these things are more complicated than we might like. Give me the wisdom to speak truth in love, for the good of others and for building them up in love. Amen.

3rd – And it’s more than cussing…

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Read Exodus 20:7

7“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

A Weighty Relationship (Commandment #3)

On a few occasions, around new people, some will flippantly let an f-bomb drop or a “G.D.” this or that fly. Then, as their friends uncomfortably point out that I’m a pastor, they’ll awkwardly say, “Oh shoot, I’m so sorry.” I simply smile and enjoy the momentary squirming as they wrestle with warping the ears of the “man of God.” I imagine they have the 3rd commandment in mind and they think cussing in the presence of a pastor puts them at risk of a lightning strike. It’s strangely comical.

The reality is God’s 3rd Commandment is not about cussing or “speaking” His name in vain, though such may not be edifying. The verse says “take” not “speak.” It’s deeper than what we say. The Hebrew word means “hold, bear or carry.” Thus ‘do not carry the name of the Lord in emptiness.’ We carry the name of God upon us.

We are children of God, made in His image, ultimately belonging to and representing Him. We have a responsibility to carry His name with the weight and worth He deserves. He is calling us to value our relationship and the weight of glory within us.

Imagine the uniformed UPS man. He represents Big Brown and they have strict standards for how he carries their name as a company representative. UPS doesn’t want an employee sullying their reputation through frivolous actions. In our case, we carry the name of Christ upon us. More than putting a cross necklace on or slapping a fish on your bumper, we have been chosen for a loving relationship with the Lord God Almighty. As such, He calls us to live as godly image bearers and to weigh heavily the relationship we enjoy with Him.


Father, may my life, including my speech, reflect the deep deep love and goodness of our relationship. May I not think, speak or act in emptiness, but cherish your glory within. AMEN.