The Ten Commandments, Always New and Fresh
The 10 Commandments are a perfect reminder at the start of a new year of the basic principles for a good, happy, productive life. Discover new meaning and inspiration through family discussions.
In this new month, we often see a change in children, perhaps caused by the freedom of Christmas vacation, or boredom with the return to classes, or constrictions of the weather. Sometimes you can't put your finger right on the cause, but you still see your youngster not being as dedicated, responsible, and joyful. What's a parent to do? It may help to go over the basics connected with Moses' Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17). When you bring up the Commandments, a child may say, "But I know all those 'thou shalt nots'." But does she know what they're saying in context of today's living?
Here are some ideas for discussion with your child(ren), which you can expand or contract depending on their ages. You probably will want to do this in more than one session.
- Commandment one tells us to have just one God, to make Godliness the focus of our lives, to put God first in importance. So knowing how to reflect God's qualities comes before the basketball game or the algebra test or the party this weekend.
- The second command advises us not to make idols, such as worship of certain music stars - some actually called idols - a specific brand or style of clothing, or a drug that offers a sensation and can make itself a god in your life.
- Taking God's name in vain, as in commandment three, means we do not use the popular phrase: "O...my... God!" and we also forego the collection of four letter words that really have no meaning. We have respect for God and his works - us.
- The precious holiness of the Sabbath (commandment four) should be established as a "given" as long as the youngster is being supported by parents. This means attendance at Sunday school and church services, daily Bible study, joining in church youth activities and putting this knowledge to use in daily life.
- The fifth command to honor parents, includes using respectful language, abiding by family rules, accepting responsibility for certain regular chores, lovingly viewing all family members - and most important, acknowledging God as the loving Parent of every member of the family.
- The (sixth) command not to kill will seem obvious to most kids. And while one may not murder someone, one can still have killing thoughts towards a sports competitor or a bully, or anyone we might be angry with. Sometimes we kill others' good ideas, or our attitude kills family joy.
- Not to commit adultery (number seven) has many meanings - we can let our thinking become adulterated with wrong motives and aims, we can forget the preciousness of the marriage covenant, or we can "water down" many important ethical standards to suit our own activities.
- And how about stealing? (Number eight). While a youngster may not slip a CD into a coat pocket, we often steal another's good idea without giving credit. Or, it is tempting to steal a look at another's test paper, or copy from the Internet another writer's research paper and submit it as one's own. And then there is stealing away the family's joy by a constantly sour attitude.
- We bear false witness (Number nine) anytime we lie or bad mouth another member of the family, the nation, or the world. It can be hard work to see everyone as God's creative child.
- And then there is Number ten. How easy it is to covet someone's iPod, Adidas, or scholastic or athletic skills. Yet there is unlimited good, available to all. We just need to learn how to access our own unique expression of it.
You will find these ideas to be jumping-off places for helpful family conversation. Don't hesitate to engage children in age-appropriate discussions at the dinner table or by the fire. Your family success depends on it.