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Sixth Commandment:
Life Is a Precious Gift
You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13)
What makes human life precious? Consider it from God�s point
Of view. He made us in His own image for the purpose of creating in
Us His own character. For that reason He is �not willing that any should
Perish but that all should come to repentance� (2 Peter 3:9; compare
1 Timothy 2:4). As Jesus Christ explained, �God did not send His Son
Into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him
Might be saved� (John 3:17).

In our world, however, human life is so often treated with indifference.
We settle our differences with war, killing hundreds of thousands
Of other people in the process. Criminals steal not only possessions but
Their victims� lives. So many people view an unwanted pregnancy as
Simply an inconvenience or an unexpected consequence of their sexual
Activity that millions of unborn babies are aborted every year.
What a sad contrast to our Creator, who promises us the greatest gift
Possible�the opportunity to share eternal life with Him.
The murder of the day is commonly the first topic featured on television
News program, especially in larger cities. Many such slayings are
Committed by family members or formerly close associates or friends.
Random killings from gang and street violence add to the climate of
Fear in many communities. Homicides linked to other crimes and drugs
Are all too common. Untold thousands around the world fall victim to
Mass murder in the name of politics and ideology. Murder touches the
Life of almost everyone on earth.

In supposedly advanced societies, television and motion pictures
Barrage citizens with murders and carnage. Violence is so inextricably
Woven into the fabric of society that we glamorize it in our literature
And entertainment.
It�s ironic that, in spite of our fascination with murder, we follow
The example of most societies throughout history in passing strict laws
Against it. Few people, indeed, have ever needed to be convinced that
Murder within their own community was wrong.
However, other challenges concerning the value and sanctity of
Human life tend to generate controversy, particularly the execution
Of criminals by the state. Is capital punishment the same as murder?
And what does God say about war? Why did God allow ancient
Israel to take human life in battles with other nations? Was that a
Violation of the Sixth Commandment?

The real issue

At the heart of these questions is this issue: Who possesses the
Authority to take human life? Who has the right to make that decision?
The emphasis in the Sixth Commandment is on the word you. You
Shall not murder! You are not to deliberately kill�premeditatedly or in
The anger of the moment.
We must control our tempers. Taking another person�s life is not our
Right to decide. That judgment is reserved for God alone. That is the
Thrust of this commandment. God does not allow us to choose to willfully,
Deliberately take another person�s life. The Sixth Commandment
Reminds us that God is the giver of life, and He alone has the authority
To take it or to grant humans permission to take it.
The Sixth Commandment does not specifically apply to
Manslaughter�deaths caused accidentally through carelessness or
Other unintentional actions. Such deaths, although serious occurrences,
Are not considered�by the laws of God or man�to fall into
The same category as premeditated murder
Justice vs. Mercy

God�s preference is for us to be merciful. He is especially merciful
To anyone who repents. �Say to them: �As I live,� says the Lord GOD,
�I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn
From his way and live�� (Ezekiel 33:11). That is how God thinks. That
Is the way He wants us to think.
When her accusers brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to
Jesus, what was His reaction? Her accusers would have gladly stoned
Her to death had Jesus agreed to that punishment. Such was the penalty
Allowed by law for such an offense. But, although He in no way condoned
Her sin, neither did He condemn her to death. Instead, He commanded
Her to �go and sin no more� (John 8:11). He showed mercy,
Giving her the opportunity to reconsider how she was living and change
Her ways to avoid the judgment to come.
Eventually we must give account of ourselves before God. James
Warns us, �So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law
Of liberty� (James 2:12). God will eventually administer justice to all
Who refuse to repent
God�s mercy�His forgiveness�remains available to sinners,
Including murderers. God wants to extend forgiveness to us. But
He also wants us to repent�to wholeheartedly forsake breaking
His commandments and turn to Him in sorrow and humility. We
are then to ask for forgiveness and submit to the ordinance of baptism.
Baptism serves as an act of confirmation that we consider the
old self as dead�buried in a watery grave with Christ (Acts 2:38;
Romans 6:4).
The calling and conversion of the apostle Paul is a wonderful illustration
of God�s mercy and forgiveness. Paul had personally cast his
vote for the execution of Christians before his conversion (Acts 26:10).
Yet God forgave him, making him an example from that time forward
of His great mercy.
Paul tells us about himself: �. . . I was formerly a blasphemer, a
persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did
it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly
abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a
faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came
into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this
reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all
longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him
for everlasting life� (1 Timothy 1:13-16)
What about capital punishment?

For certain offenses, God�s law permits constituted government
authorities to impose capital punishment. When the state abides by
God�s principles, this action does not violate the Sixth Commandment.
By giving us His laws, God has revealed His judgment on this matter.
He has revealed, in advance, which offenses deserve the sentence
of death, and He has established strict parameters for such decisions.
For example, a felon�s guilt must be undeniably corroborated with solid
evidence and/or witnesses before he should be sentenced.
The apostle Paul reaffirms the state�s authority to inflict capital punishment.
�For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you
want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will
have praise from the same. For he is God�s minister to you for good.
But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for
he is God�s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices
evil� (Romans 13:3-4)
Christian responsibility

Rather than abolishing the law, Jesus Christ showed its spiritual
intent and application. He expanded the requirements of the law,
making them significantly more demanding.
The commandment against murder is an example. Jesus said,
�You have heard that our forefathers were told, �Do not commit murder;
anyone who commits murder must be brought to justice.� But what
I tell you is this: Anyone who nurses anger against his brother must
be brought to justice. Whoever calls his brother �good for nothing�
deserves the sentence of the court; whoever calls him �fool� deserves
hell-fire� (Matthew 5:21-22, Revised English Bible).
Christ amplified the meaning of �murder� to include bitter animosity,
contempt or hateful hostility toward others. Merely harboring malicious
attitudes toward others violates the intent of the Sixth Commandment.
Why? Because this is mental and emotional warfare, the desire
to see a fellow human being suffer.
Using words and speech to emotionally injure other people is
equally wrong. With our tongues and pens we attack them verbally.
We assault their feelings. We annihilate their respectability. We damage
their reputations
At times we can be consumed with destructive intentions. Our
motives can be diametrically the opposite of love. The spirit of murder
can live in our hearts, and Jesus tells us the consequences for such
thoughts and actions could be our own death in the lake of fire.
Yet we should not retaliate against those who resent or verbally
attack us. Paul tells us: �Repay no one evil for evil . . . If it is possible,
as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do
not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written,
�Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,� says the Lord� (Romans 12:17-19).
Even in times of war, a Christian is expected to live by a higher standard
than the world around him.

Overcoming evil with good

Paul instructs us on the proper approach to thoughts of retaliation:
�Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good� (Romans
12:21). This should be the approach of every believer in Jesus Christ.
It is the way of love that fulfills the intent of the law of God.
�Blessed are the peacemakers,� Jesus tells us, �for they shall be
called sons of God� (Matthew 5:9). How can we put this principle into
practice? �You have heard that it was said, �You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.� But I say to you, love your enemies, bless
those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for
those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons
of your Father in heaven . . .� (verse 43-45).
God wants us to go far beyond avoiding murder. He requires that we
not maliciously harm another human being in word or deed. He desires
that we treat even those who choose to hate us as respectfully as possible
and do all within our power to live in peace and harmony with
them. He wants us to be builders, not destroyers, of good relationships.
To accomplish this we must respect this wonderful gift, this precious
possession�human life

The Seventh Commandment:
Protect the Marital Relationship
�You shall not commit adultery� (Exodus 20:14)
Men and women were designed to be together, to need each other.
Marriage, a natural union of a man and a woman, is divinely ordained,
Established by God at the creation. His laws�in particular the Seventh
Commandment�authorize the marriage relationship and establish it as
The foundation of the family, which in turn stands as the foundation and
Most important building block of society.

God told our first parents that �a man shall leave his father and
Mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh�
(Genesis 2:24). God�s instruction clearly established what all future
Generations were supposed to learn regarding marriage and sex.
As children grow old enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a
Family and come to love and honor someone of the opposite sex, it is
Natural and proper for them to marry�be joined together�and create
Their own family apart from their parents. Only then should they
�become one flesh� by physically uniting in a sexual relationship.
Jesus makes it clear that God, from the beginning, intended that marriage
Be a monogamous and permanent relationship (Matthew 19:3-6).

Blessings with risks

God intended that marriage and sex�in that order�exist as
Tremendous blessings to humanity. Their potential for good is boundless.
But the same desires that bring a man and a woman together
Into a loving, natural relationship�a godly blessing�can pose risks.
Unless the natural desires that attract us to members of the opposite
Sex are channeled exclusively toward a loving marriage relationship,
The temptation to engage in sexual immorality can easily overpower our
Self-control. This weakness is the focus of the Seventh Commandment:
�You shall not commit adultery� (Exodus 20:14).
Adultery is the violation of the marriage covenant by willful participation
In sexual activity with someone other than one�s spouse. Since
God�s law sanctions sexual relationships only within a legitimate marriage,
The command not to commit adultery covers, in principle, all
Varieties of sexual immorality. No sexual relationship of any sort should
Occur outside of marriage. That is the message of this commandment.
In much of the world sexual immorality is no longer regarded as a
Significant social evil. God, however, categorically condemns all forms
Of sexual immorality (Revelation 21:8).

Our need for sexual direction

God gave us the Seventh Commandment to direct and define the
Sexual roles that bring lasting happiness and stability. Nothing is more
Desperately needed in this age.
God created sex. It was His idea. Contrary to some long-held opinions,
He wants us to enjoy an abundantly pleasurable and stable sexual
Relationship within marriage. In that context, our sexuality endows us
With the capacity to convey our appreciation, tenderness, devotion and
Love to our mate. It can add immeasurably to our sense of well-being
And contentment.
The joy and confidence we derive from a proper marital relationship
Can positively affect our interaction with others, especially our own
Children. God wants the marital relationship strengthened and protected.
He tells us in His Word: �Enjoy life with the woman whom you
Love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you
Under the sun; for this is your reward in life, and in your toil in which
You have labored under the sun� (Ecclesiastes 9:9, New American
Standard Bible).

But of adultery God warns: �For why should you, my son, be
Enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a
Seductress? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and
He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,
And he is caught in the cords of his sin� (Proverbs 5:20-22).
Again concerning adultery we are warned: �Can a man take fire to
His bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals,
And his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor�s
Wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent� (Proverbs 6:27-29).
�Wounds and dishonor he [the adulterer] will get, and his reproach
Will not be wiped away� (verse 33).
Are these warnings nothing but unenlightened, outdated rhetoric?
Don't believe it! Instead, consider the worldwide havoc wreaked by
Sex outside of marriage.

Consequences of sexual sin

The social and personal harm brought by sexual immorality is so
Pervasive that it defies our ability to quantify its toll in human suffering.
Most people simply refuse to contemplate its staggering consequences.
Two prevailing views stand out. Some people assert their right to do
Whatever they please: �Nobody is going to tell me what I can do in my
personal life.� Others rationalize virtually any kind of behavior: �It
doesn�t matter what I do so long as no one gets hurt.� These arguments
are used to justify all sorts of sexual behavior, including promiscuity.
Both views ignore a fundamental reality: People do get hurt�badly
hurt. Immorality in any form is ultimately destructive. As the proverb
says, �whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding;
he who does so destroys his own soul� (Proverbs 6:32). Adultery�s first
casualty is the damage to our mind and character.
Equally damaging is the personal abasement that flows from sexual
immorality. It can be denied, but it cannot be avoided. Paul told
Christians in the licentiously infamous city of Corinth: �Flee sexual
immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who
commits sexual immorality sins against his own body� (1 Corinthians
6:18). These warnings apply equally to men and women because
�God shows no partiality� (Acts 10:34).

Consider the disastrous effects of the sexual revolution. The explosion
in sexually transmissible diseases (STDs) is an international
disgrace. STDs account for many of the most commonly reported
infectious diseases in the world. AIDS alone takes a frightening toll
in lives and suffering and rivals the most deadly epidemics in history.
Treatments and medical research for cures are expensive. Ironically,
all this is avoidable because these diseases are spread almost exclusively
through sexual promiscuity or perverted practices.
The decline in commitment to marriage and family and the resulting
decrease in spouses� loyalty and devotion to each other have contributed
heavily to the steady increase in extramarital liaisons. A growing
segment of our society has adopted the practice of casual live-in relationships.
Ours is a throwaway society. Intimate personal relationships
are routinely discarded.
Children are the big losers in our fast-track society with its touted
sexual revolution. They receive less and less parental guidance. In the
United States fathers spend an average of only a few minutes per day
in one-on-one contact with each child. Is it any wonder that we see
a rapidly expanding subculture of alienated and disaffected children?
Society is losing sight of what families are all about.

The cost of broken homes

Broken homes are another staggering cost of the sexual revolution.
They, in turn, spawn other social tragedies. A majority of the economically
disadvantaged live in one-parent homes. Homes headed by a single
parent are a leading factor in the incidence of subsequent criminal
activity. Broken homes are the main consequence of sexual immorality
and shattered marriages resulting from sexual infidelity.
To this we must add devastating legal fees and decreased productivity
and income, not to mention the frequent loss of dwellings and
personal property. These factors reduce many people to poverty�
particularly single mothers with young children. The problem is compounded
when some of these children grow up with inadequate job and
social skills and remain wards of the welfare system even as adults.
Divorce makes for even deeper personal problems. Custody fights
go on for years. Children become pawns in a tug of war between
parents for their love and loyalty. Children�s grades suffer; some
drop out of school. Teenagers in turn become parents at younger and
younger ages.

The psychological cost

Long before a divorce, emotional and psychological damage is
often inflicted on the mate and children of the sexually unfaithful.
Many are permanently scarred from disillusionment, shame and
a loss of a sense of self-worth. In these situations, a home can no
longer provide the warmth, comfort and security that builds confidence
and hope. Lack of hope contributes to suicides, which after
accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and young
adults. Such tragedies can occur years after the sowing of the seeds
of despair.
The psychological cost of betrayal, rejection and abandonment is
staggering. The spirit of millions is submerged in anger, depression
and bitterness because their trust in one whom they loved�whether
mate or parent�has been betrayed. Many of these people are emotionally
distorted for life. Some of them seek counseling, but others
look for vengeance.
The problems go on and on. Who said no one gets hurt? Adultery
and promiscuity are tickets to social disaster. The real cost of sexual
Immorality is astronomical.

Adultery begins in the mind

The Bible labels humanity�s obsession with self-gratification for
what it is: lust. �For all that is in the world�the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life�is not of the Father but is of the
world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who
does the will of God abides forever� (1 John 2:16-17).
Lust is the beginning of adultery and immorality. �You have heard
that it was said to those of old, �You shall not commit adultery,�� said
Jesus Christ. �But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust
for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart� (Matthew
Contrary to the opinions of most people, sexual fantasies are anything
but harmless. Our actions originate in our thoughts, in the desires
that float through our minds (James 1:14-15). Daydreams of illicit sexual
encounters render us especially vulnerable to the real thing. Make
no mistake. Opportunities to sin will come. We need to heed Jesus�
warning that adultery begins in the heart.

Not all attraction is lust

It is also important that we do not transfer what Jesus said about
lust into a context He never intended. Otherwise our view of legitimate
attractions that naturally precede courtship and marriage can become
grossly distorted.
Throughout the Bible, God approves the legitimate sexual attraction
that promotes proper courtship and marriage. After all, those desires
are a part of the mental and emotional makeup He created in men and
women. Jesus denounced only sinful thoughts and behavior, not the
legitimate desire to marry and build a proper relationship with someone
of the opposite sex. Nor did He proscribe the acknowledgment of
someone of the opposite sex as attractive. He did, however, condemn
lust�mentally savoring of an immoral relationship.
We can control sensual desires by replacing them with an unselfish
concern for others. Of course, this kind of love is a gift from God,
possible as God�s Spirit works in us (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22).

Dealing with sexual sins

Thanks to the prevalence of promiscuity, not many people begin
serving God with a clean slate, sexually speaking. For us to have a
proper relationship with God, it is important that we correctly understand
how God views our past.
We must understand that God is merciful. He takes no pleasure in
punishing us for sins. He much prefers to help us turn our lives around.
He is eager to share eternal life with us in His Kingdom (Luke 12:32).
He rejoices when we repent and obey Him�and begin living by His
royal law of love (Ezekiel 33:11; James 2:8).
When the woman was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus,
He did not condone her sin. But neither did He condemn her. He
simply told her, �Go and sin no more� (John 8:11)
David tells us that God is �merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and
abounding in mercy� (Psalm 103:8). The apostle John explained that
�if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness� (1 John 1:9).
Should we take other steps, then, to alter the course of our behavior?
God�s Word offers this advice: �How can a young man cleanse his
way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart
I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!�
(Psalm 119:9-11). People of all ages should heed these words.
Simple regret for what we have done isn�t enough. God wants us to
diligently study His Word to learn His rules of life. Then, when we sincerely
begin turning our lives around, God promises that �though your
sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow . . .� (Isaiah 1:18).
Genuine repentance followed by the acceptance of the forgiveness of
God is an integral part of our spiritual development.

Stability in marriage

Companionship is one of the greatest blessings we can gain from
a stable and loving marriage. God recognized this when he created
us. �And the LORD God said, �It is not good that man should be alone;
I will make him a helper comparable to him�� (Genesis 2:18).
�Two are better than one, for their partnership yields this advantage:
if one falls, the other can help his companion up again; but woe betide
the solitary person who when down has no partner to help him up�
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, REB).
Most of us need the support and companionship of a loving spouse.
We need someone special who can share our ups and downs, triumphs
and failures. No one can fill this role like a mate who shares with us
a deep love and commitment.

Society suffers because we have lost the vision that God had for
marriage from the beginning. Marriage is not a requirement for success
in pleasing God. But it is tremendous blessing to couples who treat
each other as God intended. Most people desire and need the benefits
that come from a stable marriage.
To return to what God intended, we must give marriage the respect
it deserves. We must faithfully obey our Creator�s commandment �You
shall not commit adultery.�

The Eighth Commandment:
Practice Giving Rather Than Getting

�You shall not steal� (Exodus 20:15).
The Eighth Commandment, which forbids theft, calls our attention to
Two opposite ways of thinking and living. An approach that emphasizes
Getting rather than giving wins all contests for popularity. But the giving
Approach epitomizes God�s love for others.
Theft is the ultimate assertion of the greedy, lustful way of life, one
That emphasizes acquiring material and intangible things with no regard
For the rights and feelings of others. It scorns conventions and boundaries
Established by society and God. It is the epitome of selfishness.
The spiritual intent of the commandment against stealing tells us
Where the battle against selfishness begins. It originates when we learn
To appreciate the rights and needs of others.

The right to own property

The Eighth Commandment safeguards everyone�s right to legitimately
Acquire and own property. God wants that right honored and
His approach to material wealth is balanced. He wants us to prosper
And enjoy physical blessings (3 John 1:2). He also expects us to show
Wisdom in how we use what He provides us. But He does not want
Possessions to be our primary pursuit in life (Matthew 6:25-33). When
We see material blessings as a means to achieve more-important objectives,
God enjoys seeing us prosper.
To Him it is important that generosity rather than greed motivate the
Choices we make. Because they are qualities of His own character, He
Asks that we, from the heart, put giving and serving ahead of lavishing
Possessions on ourselves.

God loves cheerful givers

Jesus addressed this approach when He spoke of assisting the less
Fortunate with risky loans. �Give to everyone who asks of you, and
Whoever takes away what is yours [such as money lent to the poor],
Do not demand it back. And just as you want people to treat you, treat
Them in the same way . . . And if you lend to those from whom you
Expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners,
In order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies,
And do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward
Will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself
Is kind to ungrateful and evil men� (Luke 6:30-35, NASB).
Basing what comes next on what He has already told us about having
A generous rather than a selfish heart, Jesus continued: �Give, and it
Will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and
Running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure
That you use, it will be measured back to you� (verse 38).

God is willing to be our partner in serving others if we replace greed
With a devotion to serving. He looks at the measure of the intensity of
Our commitment to that giving way of life.
Paul expresses it clearly. �So let each one give as he purposes in his
Heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace [His favor] abound toward you, that
You, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance
For every good work� (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).
God rejoices when He sees us, once our own needs are met, using
Any additional abundance in blessings to increase our usefulness and
Service to others. He then can know we are beginning to understand
And follow His way of life.

Changing the heart of a thief

How does all of this relate directly to the command not to steal?
Paul gives us the connection. �Let him who stole steal no longer, but
Rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may
Have something to give him who has need� (Ephesians 4:28).
A thief must go far beyond simply ceasing his larceny to please God.
Someone once wisely observed: �A thief who has quit stealing may still
Be a thief at heart�a thief just temporarily unemployed. He really
Ceases to be a thief only if and when he replaces stealing with giving.�
A thief has to change his heart and outlook.

Other forms of stealing

Directly taking another�s possessions is not the only way to steal.
Con artists use sophisticated scams to swindle their victims. Deceptive
Advertisements do the same. Manufacturers who misleadingly advertise
Their products of substandard quality cheat their customers. Laborers
Who bill for more hours than they work or charge more than their
Services are worth are stealing from those who hire them.
Then there are those who �borrow� but never return. Aren�t they
Stealing? There are so many ways to take what is not ours that we must
stay on our guard. We could be breaking God�s commandment against
stealing without realizing what we are doing.

Employees who do not work although paid to do so are stealing
from their employers. People who delight in consuming what others
produce while refusing to carry their share of the labor and responsibility
or their part in the production of goods and services engage in
still another form of stealing. They siphon away what others produce
but make little or no contribution themselves. They take and give
little in return.

Notice Jesus Christ�s parable of the person who refuses to assume
personal responsibility: �Then he who had received the one talent came
and said, �Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have
not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was
afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you
have what is yours.� But his lord answered and said to him, �You
wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown,
and gather where I have not scattered seed�� (Matthew 25:24-26).
The man in this parable knew that his job was to produce for his
master. But, because of his own distorted outlook, he willingly chose
to be unproductive. He knew the rules and responsibilities placed on
him. He had no excuse for his slack behavior.
Jesus� parable continues: �So you ought to have deposited my
money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back
my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to
him who has ten talents� (verses 27-28).

The man�s employer called him �wicked and lazy.� At heart he was
no different from a thief. Therefore his boss gave his reward to another
who had worked hard to benefit someone besides himself. Jesus used
this parable to illustrate God�s low opinion of self-pity and selfishness.

Can we steal from God?

The Bible helps us recognize yet another form of stealing. From the
time of Abraham (Genesis 14:20) forward, the Bible shows examples
of how God�s faithful servants formally acknowledged who really owns
everything�God. They faithfully gave Him one tenth of their increase.
In the covenant God made with ancient Israel, a tenth of the people�s
increase was set aside for the priests to finance their spiritual service
to the nation. Needless to say, this practice of tithing (meaning giving
a tenth) never became popular with most people. It required faith that
God would amply supply their needs if they were a giving people.
By 721 B.C., general disobedience to God�s laws had become so
entrenched in ancient Israel that God sent the northern 10 tribes into
captivity by the hand of the Assyrians, leaving only the tribes of Judah
and Benjamin, and scattered Levites, in the southern kingdom of Judah.
They continued the pattern of disobedience and were taken as captives
to Babylon in 587.

About a century later a small group of Jews returned to Jerusalem
and rebuilt the city and the temple under the leadership of Ezra and
Nehemiah. But their loyalty to God soon began to wane, as it had
before their captivity. Through the prophet Malachi, God reprimanded
the priests for neglecting the teaching of His laws (Malachi 2:7-9).
Meanwhile, He reproved the people for keeping His tithe for themselves.
�Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say,
�In what way have we robbed You?� In tithes and offerings. You are
cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation�
(Malachi 3:8-9).

The leaders of the Jews at that time reversed the nation�s disobedience
and instituted detailed regulations to force everyone to comply
with the law. The physical aspects of these regulations were strict,
but many people continued in woeful negligence when it came to the
spiritual aspects of the law.
Later Jesus condemned their misguided priorities. He supported the
Jews� continued observance of the physical aspects of the law and their
faithful tithing. But He criticized their failure also to emphasize the
spiritual virtues of faith, mercy and justice.
�Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of
mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters
of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done,
without leaving the others undone� (Matthew 23:23). Jesus told them
they should have been doing both�practicing the law of tithing along
with exercising faith, mercy and justice. Jesus Christ affirmed the practice
Of tithing�of giving back to God a portion of what He gives us.
We are not to take for ourselves the tenth that belongs to Him.

Beyond the here and now

God wants us to have confidence in the future. His Word is full of
promises concerning our future in His Kingdom. If we believe those
promises, we will invest our time and energy in acquiring a wealth of
spiritual treasures that will last forever�treasures that no thief can take
from us.
That is the advice of Jesus Christ. �Do not lay up for yourselves
treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves
break in and steal,� said Jesus, �but lay up for yourselves treasures in
heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not
break in and steal� (Matthew 6:19-20).
We need to understand and apply true values to life. We need to concentrate on building character traits that will endure beyond physical
life. At the heart of it all is love. Godly love defeats the desire to steal.

The Ninth Commandment:
Truth as a Way of Life
�You shall not bear false witness against your
Neighbor� (Exodus 20:16)
How important is truth?
To fully appreciate the Ninth Commandment,
With its prohibition of lying, we must realize how important truth
Is to God.
What do the Scriptures tell us about God, His Word and truth?
Notice what several verses tell us: �Every word of God is pure . . .�
(Proverbs 30:5). Daniel refers to God�s Word as �the Scripture of
Truth� (Daniel 10:21). Jesus Christ said of God the Father, �Your word
Is truth� (John 17:17).
The Bible throughout teaches that �God is not a man, that He should
Lie� (Numbers 23:19). It explains that �the word of the LORD is right,
And all His work is done in truth� (Psalm 33:4) because He is a �God
Of truth� (Deuteronomy 32:4). And �His truth endures to all generations�
(Psalm 100:5)
As the source of truth,
God requires that His servants always speak
Truthfully. Under God�s inspiration, King David writes: �LORD, who
May dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He
Whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks
The truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his
Neighbour no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow-man . . . [and] who
Keeps his oath even when it hurts� (Psalm 15:1-3, NIV).
God expects truth to permeate every facet of our lives.

Christ and the truth

Restoring regard for truth as a universal way of life will be a
Priority when Jesus Christ returns to establish His rule. �Thus says
The LORD: �I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD
Of hosts, The Holy Mountain�� (Zechariah 8:3).
Looking forward to Christ�s rule in the Kingdom of God, Psalm 85
Reveals the emphasis God will place on righteousness and truth. �Surely
His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in
Our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace
Have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall
Look down from heaven. Yes, the LORD will give what is good; and our
Land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, and shall
Make His footsteps our pathway� (verses 9-13).
At that time Jesus Christ will insist that all of mankind follow His
Footsteps in accepting, believing and speaking the truth.

Truth in our relationship with Christ

Our personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ,
Begins with our acceptance of and surrender to God�s Word as truth.
�In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel
Of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with
The Holy Spirit of promise� (Ephesians 1:13).
When Jesus stood trial, just before His crucifixion, the Roman governor
Pilate asked Christ if He were truly a king. Jesus responded by
Summarizing His mission and noting who would respond to His message:
�You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and
For this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to
The truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice� (John 18:37).
Jesus Christ�s character was (and is) a perfect reflection of the character
Of our heavenly Father, the God of truth. In response to a question
From one of His disciples, Jesus said: �I am the way, the truth, and the
Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me� (John 14:6). His
Disciples, by �speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into
Him who is the head�Christ� (Ephesians 4:15).
To be disciples of Jesus Christ we must resolve to consistently speak
Also accept and obey, as �the way of truth,� the commandments and
Teachings of God (Psalm 119:30, 151, 160). Samuel tells us, �Only fear
The LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what
Great things He has done for you� (1 Samuel 12:24).

Lying abounds

It is almost impossible nowadays to be certain who, if anyone, is
Telling the truth. Almost everyone tries to balance the risk of being
Caught against the perceived benefits of lying.
Some businesses display amazing creativity in camouflaging deceit
When they advertise their products. Almost everywhere we can spot
individuals, businesses and other organizations involved in a sophisticated
game of seeing how deceptive they can be without attracting
lawsuits or alienating potential customers.
Lying is an accepted way of life. Our world is accurately described
by Isaiah�s description of ancient Israel: �No one calls for justice, nor
does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they
conceive evil and bring forth iniquity� (Isaiah 59:4).
How did God view the Israelites� epidemic of lies? �So you shall say
to them, �This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their
God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off
from their mouth�� (Jeremiah 7:28).
Then as now, people routinely inject deceit into their relationships�
personal, social, political, religious and economic. The dearth of
honesty is so widely accepted that public censure no longer even
discourages lying. That demand must come from within.

Are you truthful?

Now comes the important question to you personally: Do you lie?
Maybe it would be kinder to word the question a little differently:
Just how important is being truthful to you? Or, reversing the coin:
Is lying repugnant to you? These questions are crucial. You need to
ask and answer them truthfully to yourself.
Temptations to lie never cease. They are always present. Lying is
such a quick and effortless way to gain an advantage over others. It
appears to offer easy and swift escape from embarrassment, fear and
guilt. But the Bible says, �Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD,
but those who deal truthfully are His delight� (Proverbs 12:22).
We face a fundamental choice. We follow God�s example of truthfulness
and honesty in our actions and communications, or we follow the
example of the originator of lying, Satan. Jesus tells us that the devil is
�a liar and the father of lies� (John 8:44, NIV). He deceived Eve, then
she talked Adam into partaking of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-6,
17). This act of disobedience brought suffering and death on our first
parents. The devil has relentlessly misinformed and misled people ever
since. Satan�s malicious influence is so great that he �deceives the
whole world� (Revelation 12:9). It is all too easy for us to follow his
example in our dealings with others, especially when lying is so
commonly practiced all around us.

Human nature is deceitful

Learning to be firmly and consistently truthful requires self-discipline
and courage, and in our firmness and consistency we must rely on help
from God.
We often find ourselves doing things that we know are wrong. So
why, then, do we do them? The prophet Jeremiah gives us the answer.
�The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who
can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to
give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his
deeds� (Jeremiah 17:9-10, NASB).
God understands our nature and reveals how to combat it. Jesus
explained that, even though we may be willing to obey, our flesh is
weak (Mark 14:38). We lack the resolve and strength to resist temptation.
How, then, can we neutralize this weakness?



Return to Directory:
The Royal Law of love Part One
God, through the pen of the apostle Paul, explains the cause of and
solution to this universal human problem. Citing himself as an example,
Paul described the timeless human struggle: �For we know that the
law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing,
I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but
what I hate, that I do� (Romans 7:14-15).
We can relate to Paul. We have experienced the same frustration
and remorse. Paul continues: �For I delight in the law of God according
to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring
against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law
of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will
deliver me from this body of death?� (verses 22-24). Paul had learned
that people need help to rise above the weaknesses of human nature.

Overcoming deceit

Another apostle, Peter, denied Jesus Christ and even lied, on the night
of His betrayal, about being acquainted with Him (Matthew 26:69-74).
Like Peter, most people find it almost impossible to abandon all forms
of deceit until they surrender their lives to God and begin sincerely seeking
His help. That help is readily available, �for it is God who works in
you both to will and to do for His good pleasure� (Philippians 2:13).
We must ask for that help. And how can we get it? God�s Word
tells us: �Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed
through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain
mercy and find grace to help in time of need� (Hebrews 4:14-16).
We have at hand the solution to this pervasive and insidious human
weakness. Paul urged Church members in Ephesus to �put on the new
man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and
holiness.� How were they to do this? By �putting away lying, �Let each
one of you speak truth with his neighbor,� for we are members of one
another� (Ephesians 4:24-25).

The way of truth

Those who willingly believe and obey the truth of God can, by being
baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit, become members of the Church
that Jesus Christ built. He refers to them as the �light of the world�
(Matthew 5:14). They represent �the way of truth� (2 Peter 2:2).
Paul calls God�s Church �the pillar and ground of the truth�
(1 Timothy 3:15). Its members are the servants of �the living and true
God� (1 Thessalonians 1:9). By �rightly dividing the word of truth�
(2 Timothy 2:15), it is commissioned by Christ to preach �the truth
of the gospel� to all the world (Galatians 2:5; Matthew 24:14; 28:19).
Everything in the life of a Christian is anchored to truth. God wants
us, as His children, to commit ourselves to truth and reflect
it in everything we do. That is why God commands us: �You shall not
bear false witness against your neighbor� (Exodus 20:16).

The Tenth Commandment:
True Righteousness
Comes From the Heart

�You shall not covet your neighbor�s house; you shall
Not covet your neighbor�s wife, nor his male servant,
Nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor
Anything that is your neighbor�s� (Exodus 20:17).
The last of the Ten Commandments�against coveting�is aimed
Directly at the heart and mind of every human being. In prohibiting coveting, It defines not so much what we must do but how we should think.
It asks us to look deep within ourselves to see what we are on the inside.
As with each of the previous nine commandments, it is directed
Toward our relationships. It specifically deals with the thoughts that
Threaten those relationships and can potentially hurt ourselves and
Our neighbors.

Our motives define and govern the way we respond to everyone

We come in contact with. Our transgressions of God�s law of love begin
In the heart, as Jesus confirmed. �For from within, out of the heart of
Men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts,
Covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy,
Pride, foolishness,� Christ said. �All these evil things come from within
And defile a man� (Mark 7:21-23).
Therefore, it is fitting that the formal listing of these 10 foundational
Commands, which define the love of God, should end by focusing on
Our hearts as the wellspring of our relationship problems. From within
Come the desires that tempt us and lead us astray.
What is covetousness?

Covet means to crave or desire, especially in excessive or improper
Ways. The Tenth Commandment does not tell us that all of our desires
Are immoral. It tells us that some desires are wrong.
Coveting is an immoral longing for something that is not rightfully
Ours. That is usually because the object of our desire already belongs to
Someone else. But coveting can also include our wanting far more than
We would legitimately deserve or that would be our rightful share. The
Focus of the Tenth Commandment is that we are not to illicitly desire
Anything that already belongs to others.
The opposite of coveting is a positive desire to help others preserve
And protect their blessings from God. We should rejoice when other
People are blessed. Our desire should be to contribute to the well-being
Of others, to make our presence in their lives a blessing to them.
Humans� nature is selfish

Our natural inclination is always to think of ourselves first. We are
Far more interested in what we can get rather than what we can give.
That is the essence of what God is denouncing in the Tenth Commandment.
He tells us to stop thinking only of ourselves, to quit seeking
Only our interests. Coveting is the selfish approach to life, and selfishness
Is the root of our transgressions of God�s laws.
�. . . Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires
And enticed,� as James explains. �Then, when desire has conceived,
It gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death�
(James 1:14-15). James notes how dangerous out-of-control desires can
Be. �Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not
Come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust
And do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and
War. Yet you do not have because you do not ask� (James 4:1-2).
As James points out, coveting can be a root cause of many sins,
Including murder and warfare. If not controlled, what begins as a
Thought becomes an obsession that leads to an act. All of us have
�conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of
The flesh and of the mind� (Ephesians 2:3). We have all let our desires
Rule our behavior. Accordingly, we have all sinned (Romans 3:10, 23).

A universal plague

The apostle Paul�s description of covetous people in the last days
Is instructive. �But know this, that in the last days perilous times will
Come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters,
Proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving,
Unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of
Good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers
Of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from
Such people turn away!� (2 Timothy 3:1-5). This is a vividly accurate
Description of our world.
Our society is not unique in history. Covetousness has always cursed
Humanity. Speaking of one of the last kings of ancient Judah, God said,
�Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness,
for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence�
(Jeremiah 22:17). The problem was not limited to the kings, �because
from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given
to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals
falsely� (Jeremiah 6:13).

God expressed His abhorrence of Israel�s covetousness and warned
of its ultimate outcome: �They covet fields and take them by violence,
also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the LORD: �Behold,
against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot
remove your necks . . .�� (Micah 2:2-3).
One glaring example of the almost universal acceptance of covetousness
is the burgeoning popularity of government-run lotteries. Millions
of people surrender part of their paychecks each week hoping to win
a fantasy life of ease and luxury. Likewise, the gambling meccas of the
world are hugely popular vacation resorts, specializing in entertainment
appealing to our baser instincts.
Promoting covetousness is big business. Advertising agencies and
research firms make a science out of manipulating the selfish appetites
of consumers. Like ancient Israel, we are a covetous society, from the
least to the greatest.

A form of idolatry

Covetousness is much more serious than just a social malady. When
we put greed, lust and self above God, coveting becomes idolatry.
Paul warns us, �Therefore put to death your members which are on
the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,
which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is
coming upon the sons of disobedience� (Colossians 3:5-6).
Paul elsewhere links the sins of coveting with idolatry, pointing out
that these and other sins can prevent us from entering God�s Kingdom.
�For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous
man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ
and God� (Ephesians 5:5).

Combating covetousness

Jesus commanded His disciples to �beware of covetousness, for
one�s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses�
(Luke 12:15). Likewise, Paul tells us, �Let nothing be done through
selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem
others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his
own interests, but also for the interests of others� (Philippians 2:3-4).
God�s way, the way of love, is to practice this kind of concern for
others. �For the commandments, �You shall not commit adultery,� �You
shall not murder,� �You shall not steal,� �You shall not bear false witness,�
�You shall not covet,� and if there is any other commandment, are
all summed up in this saying, namely, �You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.� Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment
of the law� (Romans 13:9-10).
To combat covetousness, we must have faith that God will provide a
way for us to satisfy our legitimate needs. We have good reason to have
such confidence. The Scriptures promise that He will never abandon us
if we obey and trust Him. �Let your conduct be without covetousness;
be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said,
�I will never leave you nor forsake you�� (Hebrews 13:5).
Paul expresses the same principles in other words. �For we brought
nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And
having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those
who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many
foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some
have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves
through with many sorrows� (1 Timothy 6:7-10).
Covetousness cannot be defeated without help from God. The negative
pulls of human nature are simply too powerful for us to overcome
by ourselves.
To receive the help we need, we must ask for it�especially requesting
that God will give us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). Then we must
allow God�s Spirit to work in us to change the way we think. �Walk
in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh,� Paul writes.
�For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;
and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things
that you wish� (Galatians 5:16-17). Acts 2:38 explains how we can
receive the Holy Spirit. (Be sure to request our free booklet The Road
to Eternal Life.)

Directing our desires

We need to orient our desires in the right direction. Jesus explained
that we should �seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness�
(Matthew 6:33). He also instructed us: �. . . Lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves
do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart
will be also� (Matthew 6:20-21).
Proper and profitable relationships, spiritual understanding and wisdom
are examples of the lasting treasures that God wants us to desire.
�Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding,
if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden
treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the
knowledge of God� (Proverbs 2:3-5).
God says that �wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things
one may desire cannot be compared with her� (Proverbs 8:11).
His Word describes some of wisdom�s rewards: �My fruit is better
than gold . . . I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of
the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit
wealth, that I may fill their treasuries� (verses 19-21). It pays to
seek wisdom with righteousness.

Wanting to excel in our life�s pursuits can be an appropriate ambition.
If being useful to others is our objective, God approves of our
gaining the necessary skills and knowledge that bring favor and
Advancement in this life. As a wise servant of God wrote: �Do you see
a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not
stand before unknown men� (Proverbs 22:29).
God wants concern for others to be the motivation for our desires.
Sometimes our service to them will result in wonderful rewards for us.
But only if our hearts are focused on giving rather than getting will our
desires be channeled in the right direction. We must replace coveting
with service and love for other people.

The book of Hebrews reminds us not to forget �to do good and to
share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased� (Hebrews 13:16).
We should look to the example of the apostle Paul, who said, �I have
coveted no one�s silver or gold or apparel . . . I have shown you in
every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And
remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, �It is more blessed
to give than to receive�� (Acts 20:33-35).

The Ten Commandments
In the New Testament

The longest chapter in the Bible is an extended praise of God�s Word
And law. �Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can
Make them stumble,� it tells us. �I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and
I follow your commands. I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly�
(Psalm 119:165-167, NIV).
If only the whole world would view God�s law in that light! But, to
Our shame, the Ten Commandments have been rejected as the standard
Of human behavior by our society. Even many who profess to follow
Christ today treat them as irrelevant because they have been taught that
God�s law was abolished at Christ�s death.
Yet God�s Word tells us that His law is �perfect� and His ordinances
�are sure and altogether righteous� (Psalm 19:7, 9). Accordingly, the
Enthusiastic author above again affirmed, �I will always obey your law,
For ever and ever� (Psalm 119:44, NIV).

Does it matter whether we obey the Ten Commandments?
Finding the answer

Wouldn�t it be wonderful if we could ask Jesus Christ if keeping the
Ten Commandments is still necessary, especially to receive eternal life?
Actually, that is not as difficult as it may seem. That question was
Directly put to Jesus, and the Bible preserves His reply for us. �Now
Behold, one came and said to Him, �Good Teacher, what good thing
Shall I do that I may have eternal life?� So He said to him, �Why do you
Call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to
Enter into life, keep the commandments�� (Matthew 19:16-17). That is
About as clear as one can be. Jesus said that He expects any who desire
To receive the gift of eternal life to keep God�s commandments.
The person then asked exactly which commandments Jesus meant.
Did He have the Ten Commandments in mind, or was He referring to
The many extrabiblical dictates taught by other religious leaders?
Jesus left no doubt. When asked which ones, Jesus responded: �You
Shall not murder,� �You shall not commit adultery,� �You shall not
Steal,� �You shall not bear false witness,� �Honor your father and your
Mother,� and �You shall love your neighbor as yourself� (verses 18-19).
He briefly recited half of the Ten Commandments. He then quoted
Another command, from Leviticus 19:18, that summarizes the intent of
The Ten Commandments and confirms the validity of the rest of the law.
He was clearly referring to the law of God, not to the restrictions added
By certain other religious leaders (Matthew 15:1-3).

Many people have heard that Jesus abolished the Old Testament
Laws. Here again Jesus gives us His own direct response:
�Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the
Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell
You the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest
Letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear
From the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks
One of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do
The same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever
Practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the
Kingdom of heaven� (Matthew 5:17-19, NIV).

Again, Jesus spoke clearly and to the point. God�s law has not been
Abolished, and, according to Christ�s own words, anyone who teaches
So is directly contradicting Him and is in serious spiritual trouble.
Many assume they do not need to keep God�s law because Christ
�fulfilled� it. But these people fundamentally misunderstand Christ�s
Clear words. The word translated fulfill in this passage means �to
Make full, to fill to the full� (Vine�s Complete Expository Dictionary
Of Old and New Testament Words, �Fill�), and that is exactly what
Jesus did. He perfectly kept the Ten Commandments and completely
Filled their meaning. He showed their spiritual intent, explaining that
Unjustified anger equates with murder (verses 21-22), and lust is mental
And emotional adultery (verses 27-28). Jesus expanded the intent
Of the Ten Commandments.

He also made it unquestionably clear that God treasures people
Who obey His laws. But anyone who transgresses His commandments
Quickly diminishes God�s favor toward him.
Jesus expects much more from us than lip service. He demands that
We do as the Father has commanded. Jesus said, �Not everyone who
Says to Me, �Lord, Lord,� shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he
Who does the will of My Father in heaven� (Matthew 7:21). Jesus
plainly taught obedience to God�s law.
There is simply no excuse for believing that Jesus came to abolish
any commandments of God. On the contrary, when asked, �Good
Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?�
He responded, �But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments�
(Matthew 19:16-17).
He explained that obeying the Ten Commandments is a prerequisite
for receiving God�s gift of eternal life. One who repents is one who
simply begins keeping the laws of God, because sin is the breaking
of those laws (1 John 3:4).

Paul taught obedience to the law

Some selectively use parts of the apostle Paul�s writings to say
that he taught against God�s laws. Yet Paul makes one of the most
powerful and unambiguous statements in support of keeping God�s
law. Contrasting the merits of circumcision with the merits of
God�s commandments, Paul says, �Circumcision is nothing and
uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God
is what matters� (1 Corinthians 7:19). The wording of the New
Revised Standard Version is even more emphatic, saying, �obeying
the commandments of God is everything.�
In the introduction of his letter to the church in Rome, Paul
explained that he and the other apostles had all �received grace and
apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations� (Romans 1:5).
What did Paul personally strive to obey? In the context of describing
the battle we all wage against the weaknesses of the flesh, Paul said,
�So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God . . .� (Romans
7:25). The law of God was written in Paul�s mind and heart just as it
is to be in ours (Hebrews 10:16).

Paul clearly explained his personal view of God�s law: �Therefore
the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good�
(Romans 7:12). And �I delight in the law of God in my inmost self
(verse 22, NRSV). He calls it a �spiritual� law (verse 14).
Paul taught, �For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous
in God�s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared
righteous . . .� (Romans 2:13, NIV). These are plain statements showing
that Paul fully supported God�s law.
Those who opposed Paul were the first to falsely charge him with
breaking the law. They introduced an accusation that has been repeated
through the centuries.
In defending himself, Paul vigorously denied he was a lawbreaker of
any kind. At one of his trials �the Jews who had come down from
Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul,
which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, �Neither
against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar
have I offended in anything at all�� (Acts 25:7-8).

In a similar setting Paul markedly told those judging him that He
had continued to use the Old Testament Scriptures as the authority for
his beliefs: �. . . I confess to you, that according to the Way which they
call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things
which are written in the Law and in the Prophets� (Acts 24:13-14).
Accusations�then or now�that Paul taught against the law of
God are fallacious. Even of his preaching to the gentiles, He said,
�I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has
accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God . . .�
(Romans 15:18, NIV). Paul kept the commandments of God. He
taught them to Jews and gentiles alike.

Peter and John teach obedience

The apostle John clearly defines sin, telling us that �sin is the transgression
of the law� (1 John 3:4, KJV). Like Paul, John describes the
saints as �those who keep the commandments of God and the faith
of Jesus� (Revelation 14:12). He also gives us this sobering warning:
�He who says, �I know Him,� and does not keep His commandments,
is a liar, and the truth is not in him� (1 John 2:4).
Peter delivers a similar warning. �For if, after they have escaped
the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome,
the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would
have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment
delivered to them� (2 Peter 2:20-21).

In the final chapter of the Bible, Jesus Christ through the apostle
John (Revelation 1:1) reminds us of the supreme importance of God�s
commandments to our eternal life. �Blessed are those who do His
commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and
may enter through the gates into the city� (Revelation 22:14).
It is important that we believe what Jesus and His apostles said
about their own view of the commandments of God. Once that is clear
To us, then the reasonings of men cannot deter us from respecting and
obeying those commandments from the heart.
God said to Moses, �Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they
would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might
be well with them and with their children forever!� (Deuteronomy
5:29). And Jesus said, �If you keep My commandments, you will abide
in My love, just as I have kept My Father�s commandments and abide
in His love� (John 15:10).

Remember the advice in the first Psalm: �Blessed is the man who
walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of
the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like
a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its
season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall
prosper� (Psalm 1:1-3).

The choice is ours

Each person must choose whether to obey the living God, who gave
us the Ten Commandments. His standards can be the guidelines for our
thoughts, the yardstick for our behavior. They can shape our minds and
hearts. Or we can ignore them and choose another way.
In making our decision, we should remember Jesus Christ�s words:
�. . . If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments� (Matthew
19:17). God admonishes us to consider our choice. �See, I have set
before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you
today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep
His commandments . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants
may live� (Deuteronomy 30:15-19).

 Holy Obedience
Humanly speaking obedience often appears so pragmatic, so cut and dry - a �do this� and a �don�t do that!� Sacred Scripture reveals obedience�s nobler pedigree in friendship with God, which was lost by the disobedience of Adam. Ever since, obedience regularly wears work clothes, for it is in toil and the sweat of his brow that man eats his bread. By the obedience of Christ, the new Adam, we were redeemed; friendship with God was restored. He, the Servant of God, the Child of the Father, imbued obedience with love. Obedience is the felicitous lot of the child and the lover as well: �Your wish is my command!� Related to God, it becomes a beatitude precisely for those who thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied (cf. Mt 5:6).
As a virtue obedience falls under the cardinal virtue of justice, whereby we have a perpetual and constant will to give each one their due (cf. Summa theol. II-II. 58.1,c). Supernaturally, we are �justified� by Christ�s obedience, for His grace makes it possible for us to render worthily to God that which we owe Him: faith, veneration and obedience. ��The obedience of faith� (Rom 16:26; cf. Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be given to God Who reveals, an obedience by which man entrusts his whole self freely to God� (Dei Verbum, 5). By devotion, the principal act of the virtue of religion we readily pay to God the reverence and worship due His Name. And by holy obedience, we submit ourselves to His majesty and authority, that is, to His laws, whether coming directly from Him or from those who exercise authority in His name, be it in the Church or in society.
Significantly, our submission of obedience to the divine will is the guarantee that our religion be holy and pure. King Saul was rejected because he failed in this respect and did not execute God�s command. Samuel chided him: �Obedience is better than sacrifices, and to heed [the word of God] better than to offer the fat of rams. For it is like the crime of witchcraft to rebel and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey� (1 Sam 15:22f). This is why St. Thomas reckoned pious self-will among the worst faults: under the appearance of religion and obedience, one does that which is their opposite.
In a broad sense obedience is a universal virtue or characteristic of the moral life, for every good work �obeys� some law, and every sin somehow �disobeys� some law. Thus it enjoys a close link to charity, according to Christ�s words: �If you keep My commandments you will abide in my love� (Jn 15:10). It is not possible to love God, if we do not revere His authority and submit ourselves to His commandments.
In this Circular Letter, we shall consider obedience from the pragmatic side of service and the filial side of Christ�s obedience. Obedience not only gets the job done, but also disposes us for union with God. Next to His love for the Father, obedience is Christ�s greatest redemptive attribute!
Obedience in the History of Salvation
Obedience is esteemed for being functional and practical. Yet, merely functional obedience is incomplete; it falls short of the ideal we have in Christ, Whose reverent obedience was inspired by His love. Obedience purposes more than external purposes; as a virtue it aims at order, especially at an ordered, reverent relationship to authority.
In the beginning, the Angels were subjected to a trial of obedience. The fallen spirits rebelled out of aversion to the divine Plan of Salvation in which they were called to serve: �From the very beginning, you burst your bonds and declared, �I will not serve!�� (Jer 2,20).
Adam and Eve too were subjected to a simple trial of obedience; their docile submission to divine authority would have gained for them and us the greatest gifts. How inscrutable was their fall! St. Augustine noted: �By the precept He gave, God com-mended obedience, which is, in a sort, the mother and guardian of all the virtues in the rational creature, which was so created that submission is advantageous to it, while the fulfillment of its own will in preference to the Creator�s is destruction� (City of God., XIV, 12).
How easy it is to fall away from God, how difficult it is to find our way back again! Man could not be restored to divine friendship without being restored to the proper reverence before the Divine Authority. Thus, man�s redemption required a long and arduous preparation through a series of covenants which God established with His chosen servants. The foundation of these covenants was always faith and obedience. First, Noah found grace with God and so was able to save himself, his family and mankind in the midst of the flood through his obedience to God by building the wooden arc (symbol of the Cross of Christ; cf. 1 Pt 3:20; cf. Gen 6:8.14ff).
Abraham: �Because you have obeyed My voice!�
Similarly, God commanded Abraham: �Walk before Me [in obedience], and be perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and you: and I will multiply you exceedingly. ... You shall be a father of many nations!� (Gen 17:1-2.4). And when the time came to try Abraham again, God demanded the sacrifice of his dearly beloved son, Isaac. When, in pure faith and holy obedience, Abraham showed himself ready for this sacrifice, the Angel of the Lord withheld his hand, and declared: �Now I know that you fear God, and have not spared your only begotten son for My sake. I will bless you, ... because you have obeyed My voice!� (Gen 22:12.17-18). God spared Abraham�s son, but He did not spare His own Son, rather He delivered Him up for our salvation, the obedient for the disobedient (cf. Rom 4:25; 5:9).
Moses: A Tutor to Prepare for the Promise
To further prepare man in reverence for the promise God sent Moses as a tutor of the Law. How wisely did Moses propose the Law to Israel, instilling in them both hope and the fear of the Lord: �Behold, I set forth in your sight this day a blessing and a curse. A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day. A curse, if you obey not the commandments of the Lord your God� (Dt 11:26-28). Salvation History teaches us this: The servant�s fear of the Lord paves the way for filial, loving piety. �A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My fear? (Mal 1:6).
Social and Filial Obedience
Two kinds of obedience are recommended in Holy Scripture. First, social obedience, which is necessary for the well being and functioning of society and the individual. Such obedience, rooted in nature, also overflows into the order of grace and revelation. Secondly, filial obedience, which in Christ takes on a revelatory character. This obedience invites us into the true freedom of the children of God. A certain accent distinguishes functional from filial obedience.
Social Obedience
Social obedience tends to be functional. It is about work that needs to be done. Here is present a unity of purpose that is hierarchical in nature, like that which accrues between the will and the hand. All creatures are like instruments in the hand of God, all creatures serve the plans of His providence. �As the eyes of the servant are on hands of their master, so our eyes are on the Lord!� (Ps 122:2a-2c).
Varieties of social Obedience
Beyond the respect and reverence we owe our parents (cf. Eph 6:1), we owe every legitimate authority obedience in those things that fall under their rightful command: Servants should obey their masters �in sincerity of heart, as you would Christ� (Eph 6:5). Spouses are to be �subject to one another, out of reverence for Christ� (5:21) and wives in a special way to their husbands �as to the Lord� (5:22).
Similarly, civil authority has a right to command based on the authority received from God: �Be subject ... to the king as supreme, or to governors ... for such is the will of God. ... honor the king� (1 Pt 2:13.15.17). For this reason Jesus submitted to the authority of Pilate, to whom He said: �You would have no authority over Me, if it were not given to you from above� (Jn 19:11).
Degrees of social Obedience
Social obedience admits of many degrees, the least of which, inspired by dread fear, is not even a virtue. Craven obedience is that kind of compliance with the law which is wholly external and motivated only by temporal considerations: �obedience� is rendered only in order to avoid punishment, disgrace or some worldly loss. Were authority unable to exact punishment, if sin could be committed with impunity, souls moved by craven fear alone would flaunt authority and do their own will.
While there is nothing salutary in craven obedience, such �obedience� is still useful for society and even for the individual himself. First of all, civil peace and order are maintained. And secondly, when the sinner abstains from sin out of fear, sin is less deeply rooted in his soul, and so his chances for amendment are the greater.

Servile obedience:

the beginning of virtue, is also rooted in fear, in this case, though, a holy fear inspired by the supernatural consequences pro and con. One obeys, so as not to lose the rewards of heaven; one obeys in order to avoid eternal punishment. Like imperfect contrition and servile fear, servile obedience falls short of the mark of perfection, but still helps dispose the soul for it. We can apply St. Francis de Sales� words on imperfect contrition to this imperfect degree of obedience: �As the desire of paradise is extremely honorable, so the fear of losing it is an excellent fear! ... these motives are taught us by faith and the Christian religion, and therefore the repentance [obedience] which results from this is very laudable though imperfect� (Treatise on Divine Love, II, cc.18-19). Even when we come to perfect contrition (obedience) we should never exclude the motives that come from imperfect contrition (obedience); the fact that we have a perfect love of God should never dispense us in this life of making acts of hope (cf. St. Francis. ibid., II, ch. 17).
Considered functionally, social obedience is straightforward like a just and honest labor contract, or like military service. Vertical relationships are static and clearly defined. Such obedience is ordered to the accomplishment of something! It is a question of getting this or that job done, for which, in return, one awaits this or that reward.
Reverence for Authority
While not setting aside the hope of reward and fear of punishment, the formal motive for supernatural obedience is the reverence we have for the Divine Majesty and authority and for those persons who share in this authority. The formal fault of disobedience, accordingly, lies precisely in irreverence and contempt for authority, for which reasons St. Thomas numbers disobedience among the mortal sins. However, he adds that most disobedience is really only a material disobedience (Summa theol. II-II, 105). Now, what do he mean by �formal disobedience� and �material disobedience�? It comes down to this: when the reason why someone disobeys a law is to be sought in some other apparent good the sinner is seeking, then we speak of �material disobedience� . Such material disobedience is not a mortal sin against obedience, though it may be a mortal sin against another virtue. Adulterers, for example, commit a grievous sin against the 6th commandment, but not against obedience.
Disobedience which aims at expressing rebellion and contempt for authority is called �formal disobedience� and is a grievous fault. In their rebellion, the fallen spirits did not think that they could find happiness outside the will of God, their only �happiness� was in their exercise of contempt for God, slapping Him in the face with their �Non serviam!�
Turning things around, we also find souls who externally (materially) submit and �obey�, while their hearts are full of criticism and contempt for the person in authority. Clearly, by this contempt such souls sin formally against obedience! Very often, this corroding sin is neither repented nor confessed. Moreover, without deep humility it is difficult to avoid this fault, for just as humility disposes to reverence for authority, pride breeds contempt. Humble reverence, which lends wings to obedience, should animate the members of the Work of the Holy Angels.
Filial Obedience
Filial obedience is principally about persons, not about things; it leads beyond itself to union in love. �Obedience, practiced in imitation of Christ, whose food was to do the Father�s will (cf. Jn 4:34), shows the liberating beauty of a dependence which is not servile but filial, marked by a deep sense of responsibility and animated by mutual trust, which is a reflection in history of the loving harmony between the three Divine Persons� (Vita consecrata = VC,21).
Consider the rich young man; he was only interested in some �good thing� to be done functionally in obedience to gain eternal life. Jesus raised the discussion from things to persons, from a �good thing� to the only One Who is Good, namely, God! Eternal life is not so much a thing to be possessed, but a personal relationship to be entered into through reverent obedience and love. Since no one can come to this relationship with the Father except through the Son, Christ invited the rich young man to set goods aside which impeded him and begin to follow (obey) Christ, Who would lead him to the Father. The rich young man went away sad: he only understood functional obedience; he did not understand filial obedience which in reciprocal love leads to union and happiness.
This point is lost not only on the rich young man, but equally on many who exercise authority. How easily they are �job-oriented�, �good-thing� oriented, and so forget that their principal mission is to cultivate a paternal relationship with those in their charge. Doubtlessly, this idea will meet with criticism. But if the first end of labor, is the good of the worker and not the product of his labor (cf. JP II, encyclical On Human Labor, 13), how much more must authority - ultimately received from God and exercised in the name of the Father - be exercised for the personal good of those under charge.
Focal Point: the Christian Family
The integral reality of obedience is to be found in the family, where paternal authority, exercised in a spirit of love, inspires and sustains filial reverence and piety. Obedience contributes both to the deepened union within the family and to the common good through its productivity.
Consider the parable of the prodigal son. Seduced by the pleasures of the world, he demanded his inheritance; he wanted to be freed from filial submission to his father. Thus, he ran off. After having squandered his wealth, he remembered the goodness of his father and came back contritely and reverently, begging to be accepted as an obedient servant. The father restored him to the full dignity of sonship. The reverent order in their relationship was restored, without which love could not flourish.
The elder brother, too, though he had always obeyed the commands of his father, had never understood the loving filial relationship his father had always desired: �You are always with me and all that I have is yours!� (Lk 15:31).
The Son of God became man, not merely to pay our debt, but to lead us reverently back into the merciful embrace of the Father: �He who loves Me will be loved by My Father,...he will keep My word,... and We will come and make Our abode with him� (Jn 14:21.23).
In the Bosom of the Father
�No one has at any time seen God.� - How then can we know the mystery of His love? - John continues: �The only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him� (Jn 1,18). The mutual love and reverence between the persons in the Trinity is the exemplar for the work of Redemption through the Incarnation of the Son, Who says, �Behold, I come to do Thy will, O God!� In His humanity, He gladly humbles Himself and lays down His life in obedience, so �that the world may know that I love the Father and do as the Father has commanded� (Jn 14:31).
For the reason of His loving obedience unto death the Father loves Christ (cf. Jn 10:17). Since the Father�s love for Christ was already infinite, this special love refers to the redemptive merits of Christ, by which He also merited the eternal glorification of His Body, both personally and for all the members of the Mystical Body who shall rise one day in Christ. For this Christ had specially prayed, that they be with Him in glory (cf. Jn 17:24).
The magnitude of God�s love for us escapes us. By creating us, God reveals His goodness. By sending His own Son to become Man and die for us, He reveals a measurelessly greater love. Still, it does not yet reveal to us the intimate love-relationship with Himself into which He wishes to draw us.
This Christ revealed by instituting the Holy Eucharist so as to unite us with Himself in the most intimate of unions - greater than which there is none. In this He also initiates us into the eternal, loving embrace in which He and the Father are one in the Spirit: �that all may be one, even as You, Father, in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us!� (Jn 17:21).
It is by Christ�s becoming physically one with us, that we can understand the ultimate divine purpose: having become one with Christ, we come to share even more perfectly in His filial relationship with the Father. Christ�s filial obedience is about this reciprocal relationship, this sharing union. And the perfect path thereto is the Eucharist, in which we become one oblation with Him to the Father.
The Greatness of the Evangelical Counsels
If we are supposed to love the Law of God - �O how have I loved your Law, O Lord! It is my meditation all the day� (Ps 119:97) - how much more should we love the counsels of His love whose purpose is to lead us to perfection: �If you want to be perfect,... come follow Me!� (Mt 19:21).
�A commandment testifies a most entire and absolute will in him who gives it, but counsel only represents a will of desire. A commandment obliges us, counsel only invites us. A commandment makes the transgressor thereof culpable; counsel only makes such as do not follow it less worthy of praise. Those who violate commandments deserve damnation, those who neglect counsels deserve only to be less glorified.... we follow counsel with the intention to please, and commandments lest we should displease� (Francis de Sales, ibid., VIII, ch. 6).
God calls us all to perfection (cf. Mt 5:48), but not all are called to the religious life in the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Still, all are called to love the evangelical counsels and to imitate Christ in the measure of His donation (cf. Eph 4:7). For, �the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church; ... it manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling� (VC,3).
�When our love is exceedingly great towards God�s will,� as St. Francis de Sales points out, �we are not content to do only th e Divine will which is signified unto us by the commandments, but we also put ourselves under the obedience of the counsels, which are only given us for a more perfect observing of the commandments, to which they have reference� (ibid., VIII, ch. 7), above all, to the commandment of love.
�The evangelical counsels are thus above all a gift of the Holy Trinity. The consecrated life proclaims what the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, brings about by His love, His goodness and His beauty� (VC, 20). �The evangelical counsels [chastity, poverty and obedience]... are in fact an expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. By practicing the evangelic counsels the consecrated person lives with particular intensity the Trinitarian and Christological dimension which marks the whole of Christian life� (VC, 21).
�The Son, Who is the way which leads to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6), calls all those whom the Father has given to Him (cf. Jn 17:9) to make the following of Himself the whole purpose of their lives. But of some, those called to the consecrated life, He asks a total commitment. ...[Christ�s] way of living in chastity, poverty and obedience appears as the most radical way of living the Gospel on this earth, a way which may be called divine, for it was embraced by Him, God and Man, as the expression of His relationship as the Only-Begotten Son with the Father and the Holy Spirit� (VC, 18).

Unless you become like little Children

Thomas was light hearted; he was out for a ride with his daughter, little Judith. To be sure, he was taking her shopping. He mused to himself with delight, �What a wonderful daughter Judith is! A veritable sunbeam of joy in the family, so cheerful, such alacrity, she does everything with joy!� This quality had even caught Judith�s attention, for she had confessed to her father, �Daddy, when I have to choose my own work, it tires me out and it�s no fun, but when you tell me what I should do, I never get tired. It�s better than a game, it�s as if I�m you! Is it because you�re so big, that I never get tired?�
The shopping end of the ride was a surprise for Judith. Thomas took her into their favorite store and invited her: �You�ve been such a good girl lately, pick out a gift for yourself. What would you like?� Without the slightest hesitation, Judith answered, �I want the gift you give me!� � �No, no, my dear, you should get the one you want, pick out the gift you want most!� � But, daddy, what I want most of all is the one you give me!Tears came to Thomas� eyes as the depth and beauty of his daughter�s response struck home in the depth of his heart. Had they not consecrated her at birth to the Immaculate Conception! She reflected Mary�s purity in her child�s innocence and now she reflected her wisdom in her total love. They left the department store and walked to the other end of the mall to the little religious goods store. Now that it was up to him to choose the gift, she would like best, his thoughts had turned elsewhere. He stood a moment hesitating between two images. In the end, he bought them both: for Judith, an annunciation scene with Mary giving her joyful �Ecce� to St. Gabriel, thus becoming the Mother of God; and for himself, the garden scene with Jesus crying out �Abba�, wanting most the will of His Father over His own.        
�Ecce!� - �Abba!�
In these two words (images) lies the whole wisdom of the Divine Plan for our eternal happiness with Christ in the bosom of the Father. By His obedient return to the Father by the Cross, we too find our way back into the embrace of the Father.
How great is the power and beauty of filial obedience, which is happy to live in that filial relationship, indeed, dependence on the Father! Among the moral virtues and the evangelical counsels, it enjoys the prerogative attested to by Christ, Who, calling a little child to Himself, declared: �Truly I say to you: ... Whoever humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven� (Mt 18:3-4). In His own filial relationship to the Father, Christ is Himself this eternal child, resting in the bosom of the Father. He expressed this not only in His love, but in His loving obedience as well.
Can you?

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