God's Blueprint For A Healthy Relationship With Him

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ten commandments heart
What do you think of when you hear the word jealous? We often think of an insecure, controlling and impetuous lover who is consumed with the fear of losing the object of his or her affection. Jealousy in human terms is an emotion that always consumes and controls us if allowed to develop. Human jealousy is a sign of a dysfunctional relationship. Our experience with this emotion has distorted the way we read Exodus 20:5 and therefore, our view of the Ten Commandments. We tend to interpret the statement that he is a jealous God through the lens of our human experience. Through that lens the Ten Commandments are reduced to a set of rules that if violated, sentence us to hell. This is not God's intention and it is a gross distortion of his character.

The Ten Commandments are actually a blueprint designed by God that guarantee man's ability to enjoy a close relationship with a God who loves and cares deeply about him. We always quote the Ten Commandments out of context. Read Exodus 20 and pay close attention to the first sentence. That sentence gives us the foundation by which these commandments are to be understood. God wants us to understand that these commands are given out of a heart of relationship and we cannot separate them from this opening statement. The one who gave us these commands is the one who has delivered us from bondage and he wants to ensure that we never go back to a life of bondage. So in reality, they are guidelines for living a life of freedom. This changes the perception of a God who is jealous. God is not one who is controlled by reckless emotion like we are. He doesn't lay awake at night consumed by fear that we will betray him like some jilted lover. His jealousy is that he wants to ensure that he does everything in his power to make sure that we have a healthy view of him. His concern is that his image will get distorted and will present a false image of him. His jealousy has nothing to do with his ego. It is based on his character. It has everything to do about ensuring our eternity with him. He won't rest until we see the true image of himself. When Moses was given the commandments the second time in Exodus 34, once again God takes the time to make sure he communicates to his people the reality of who he really is. He declares this in verse six - "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."

I know what you might be thinking right now. You may be saying, "Yeah, but it says he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." That seems to contradict everything I just said. That contradiction is due to our misinterpretation of the verses prior to this. When you interpret this story outside the very first verse it leaves you no choice but to paint a picture of an impetuous God who is only full of judgment and wrath. If you study the original wording of that verse the word punishes is a mistranslation. It should read visits. He is telling us that when we distort his image (anything less than the pure, unadulterated image of God is an idol) we pass on that distortion to our great-great-grandchildren. Idolatry creates an image of an angry God, full of nothing but judgment and wrath. This is why we have families that are full of generations of dysfunction today. But when we get it right and create a healthy image of the true God, we pass on an image of a God that is compassionate and full of love and mercy that will last for thousands of generations.

Yes, he is jealous God. He wants you to know him for who he really is, void of all the distortions that have been added to that image. He hates it when his image gets distorted because it brings destruction. The Church has been guilty of presenting a false image of God at times. I myself have been guilty. You may even have a hard time reading this blog and you can't resist the urge to yell, "Yes,  BUT GOD HATES SIN!!" You might even be very angry and think I'm watering down the truth. I agree that God does hate sin and won't let it go unpunished, but that is just a small part of the bigger picture of who he is. When you serve a God of mercy and grace you don't have to convince me to follow the Ten Commandments. Those will come naturally out of a life lived under the shadow of his great love and mercy. You see, love is a much greater motivator than fear. If you serve God out of fear of his wrath and anger then you are serving a false image of him. We love him not because we have to. We love him because of who he is and because he first loved us.

The Ten Commandments are not a set of rules to keep us in line. They are a list of fruit that are a result of a healthy relationship with the one who is the compassionate and gracious God who is slow to anger and is abounding in love and faithfulness. The closer I walk in relationship with him, the more I will naturally exhibit these ten character traits in my life. In other words, the Ten Commandments are not a set of rules but a set of character traits. This is what he meant in Deuteronomy 6:6 when he said, "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." It is then that his commandments written on stone become living testaments written on our hearts to be read by those around us.
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