There was a social media post that I received. It had a picture of two very old Civil War veterans, sitting, shaking hands as friends. The caption under the photo was: “If two enemies could forgive each other and get along following a Civil War, I don’t understand why so many Americans can’t get along following an election?” The question is good. However, our society has somehow made the argument about compromise. It has nothing to do about compromise. If you have two glasses of water, one clean and one contaminated, you will never think to mix them. The question should be about which ideas are of God and which of Satan. Are one set of beliefs godless, filled with hatred for anyone who disagrees with the ideas of the other. This is much more like the old proverb, “Oil and Water Don’t Mix.” Are we being asked to tolerate or accept godlessness? Re-read the message, it is not about getting along. It is all about forgiveness! To forgive requires repentance, a change. To forgive requires Jesus!
(Romans 12:2)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
To understand the question of tolerance and compromise, one must understand the idea of testing for God’s approval, God’s will. God does not have an opinion; He has a will! Whether society likes it or not, there are specific beliefs and behaviors that we must follow to be “right with God.” In other words, what is contaminating the one glass of water? What makes the other glass of water clean? Repentance is the removal of what is abhorrent to God so that we become “clean water,” pleasing to God. To answer this question, the best place to start is God’s first social media message post to humanity:
(Exodus 20:3-17) – The Ten Commandments of our God
1. “You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Let’s create a quick report card on how humanity, society is doing with the 10 commandments. Here is a list of ideas to contemplate, in the same order as God’s own list to us:
1. Notice in the 1st commandment that the “g” in god is lower case. The dictionaries of the world capitalize the “G.” Their definition reads: the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped (as in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) as creator and ruler of the universe. Yet our world has replaced our God with materialism, narcissism, the pursuit of human pleasures, power, selfishness, and the list goes on. It is hard to argue the point that our society no longer holds our one true God above all else. Our world has made God, just a lower case “g,” god!
2. The 2nd commandment is about images, the human mind and heart. When we seek to find identity and security in something besides God, we have made it an idol. John Calvin said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We often search for peace or identity through relationships, substances, money, entertainment, or power. Even good things can become idols if we are not careful. Ministry, hobbies, charity work, or even family can take the place of God our lives. This commandment also contains a warning for future generations. God is saying that, if society doesn’t deal with idolatry in its generation, it will be passed down to our children and to their children.
3. The 3rd commandment is much more than cursing. Honoring our God is paramount. The entertainment industry, the media, and the educational systems no longer honor the one true God. The same can be said for many leaders, judges, businesses, etc. Rarely are children raised to consider the 3rd commandment.
4. Rest is not the only goal of the 4th commandment. The “busyness” of humanity requires that time be spent to refine a proper relationship with God. It takes time to know Him, to learn to love Him, to worship Him, and to communicate with Him. This has eternal implications. It is time well spent!
5. We often misunderstand the full meaning of the 5th commandment. Yes, honor is due to parents, the prior generations of our society. The very disciplines of life should be learned at home! It is the history of God, life and the world that are critical to children’s relationship with God. Where do you learn to love God? To lose honor for the past generations is to lose touch with the visible proof of our Creation. It is God, who as a Father, sent his Son to us to save us. We owe Him all the honor we can muster. The war on history shows us the lack of concern for the 5th commandment.
6. If there ever was a place humanity fails, it is the 6th commandment. War, crime, drugs, abortion, human trafficking, lust, and the pursuit of physical pleasures are some of the ways society murders. Life itself is being devalued. The hatred being spread today is not only divisive but dangerous. There is no “reset button” on life. Life is not a video game! God has given each one life, one opportunity to exist. Yet, the value of life is diminished daily. Do we really think that removing God from our country helps us with the 6th commandment?
7. Adultery is commonplace. Humanity not only accepts it, but it also encourages it. The 7th commandment was not given as a suggestion. Many families exist as single-parent homes. The idea of divorce was relegated to simple roadway signs advertising it for $99. Humanity has missed the point. Honor and commitment must be for life. This is the glue that holds a society together.
8. Theft is interesting. Many cities now have removed the penalties associated with crimes like theft. Our leaders do not hesitate to profit from insider information or bribery. Is it OK to ask why our political leaders all become wealthy after serving? Theft has evolved to include Internet fraud. The anonymity of our world has accelerated the theft of property, information, money, and even personal rights. Your information, who you are, is stolen daily. God notices! You need to notice too!
9. Bearing false witness, the 9th commandment, has become commonplace. Follow the news. There is no longer accountability for the failure to be truthful. Deceit is celebrated. Unless we all become our own “Fact Checkers,” there is no hope for God’s Truth.
10. What can be said about the 10th commandment? We are a consumer society. Every day, billions of dollars are spent telling everyone to covet what your neighbor has. This is so prevalent that even our children are being trained to covet. Do we really think that redistribution of wealth and socialism fixes this problem? God’s Truth fixes this problem!
It is hard to give us anything but a failing grade. The solution has never been to take the clean water and mix it with the contaminated water. That philosophy is based on the theory of “dilution.” If you can dilute the bad to low enough levels, it will not hurt you. Here is what Solomon says:
(Ecclesiastes 11:3) – “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.”
Solomon points out that these are absolutes, common sense things that cannot be ignored. To think otherwise is absurd! God’s Kingdom has never been a democracy. He gave us 10 rules. Humanity cannot even get those right. The point behind the 10 commandments was to make our world worth living in, make it God’s world. Yes, we have Jesus. We are all forgiven! But to have a relationship with Jesus, we still need to be repentant. Society needs to change directions. The road we are currently on is destructive. People need to take responsibility for their actions. The photo of the two Civil War soldiers commented, why can’t we all get along? The men were old, closer to God than most. That usually happens with age. What the world told them about hate was long forgotten. It has never been about compromise. Look at God’s list, it is about changing direction and then forgiving!
- Who is to blame for the lack of progress toward improving society?
- Ideas to Explore: First, look at yourself. Are you supporting ideas that lead others away from God and toward sin? Next, look at the others around you. Where do you see them abandoning God’s Truth?
- This should be a sobering assessment of humankind. What is your idea to help?
- Ideas to Explore: Society as a whole is not fixable. What is your list of ideas to at least make it better? How do we improve our leadership? How to we instill Godly values in our children?
- Take the list of ten commandments and identify at least one area that you can help with.
- Ideas to Explore: The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to live and survive in our world as it is. What is your plan? How will you help the upcoming generations?
- Jesus is quoted as replacing the Ten Commandments with only one, love one another. What do you think that means?
- Ideas to Explore: John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” Make a list, one through ten of one thing you can do for each commandment that will honor what Jesus is asking us to do.
- 1NIV New International Version Translations