“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.” (Exodus 20:17)
We live in a society of manufactured needs. Television, magazines, and the internet constantly remind us of what other people have, what we don’t have, and what we “must” have to keep up with everyone else around us.
The women of Grace Chapel were asked “What are some examples of manufactured needs?” Here are some of their answers:
- Large house, cars, clothes
- Fame in a particular field of work
- Riches, the same salary as someone else
- Popularity, beauty
- For everything to be perfect and to have no suffering in life
- New school clothes every year
- Self-fulfillment or self-actualization
- Marriage or being in love
The one thing that all of these items have in common is that they are “wants” that we somehow convince ourselves are “needs.” They simply serve to remind us that, as humans, there is a fundamental emptiness in our lives that we are constantly trying to fill.
Many think that this emptiness began in the Garden, when our first parents – who not only had everything they could want but also the very presence of God Himself – chose the one thing they couldn’t have. As Paul describes, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21)
We live in a world that is in bondage to decay. In bondage to longing for what other people have, and yet blind to the fact that nothing except for God and the love of Christ can satisfy the depth of that longing. We were designed to long for God and Him alone.
These last commandments are a fitting summary to the Decalogue. According to our authors, “Here in the last commandments we discover what the whole Decalogue is about – namely, that we were created to love God, and when that love is misdirected, life degenerates into a jumble of disordered desires, fragments testifying that we were meant to be something quite else than what we have become.” (Hauerwas & Willimon, p 130)
As we conclude our study of the Ten Commandments, I pray that you will return to the love for which you were created. I pray that you will embrace the freedom from the bondage to decay that is only found in the blood of our savior, Jesus Christ.
Thanks so much to the fabulous women of Grace Chapel for your faithful attendance and participation in this study. I enjoyed our discussions immensely and learned so much from you all. See you in the fall for our next study!