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"God is love" (1 John 4:8) and His laws, as summarized in the Ten Commandments, show us how to show love toward others—first toward God (as expressed in the first four of the Ten Commandments), and then toward our fellow man (as expressed in the last six).
Most people think of love as a strong emotional feeling toward another person, and to some extent that's true. However, the "love" most often spoken of in the Bible is an outgoing concern for others as demonstrated by our actions (1 John 3:18).
When asked to name the greatest commandment Jesus Christ, quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18: "‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). All God's other instructions, including the Ten Commandments, flow from these two commands.
The First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3) teaches that our heavenly Father should be the supreme authority in our lives. Nothing should prevent us from obeying Him, and acknowledging Him as the source of instruction in right living.
The Second Commandment: forbids the worship of idols (Exodus 20:4-6). To make any representation of God distorts and limits our perception of what He is really like. God is far greater than anything we can see or imagine.
The Third Commandment: focuses on showing respect to our Creator and not taking His name in vain (Exodus 20:7). We should never disrespect Him in word or action.
The Fourth Commandment instructs us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8-11). The Sabbath is a commanded assembly when we are instructed in God’s way of life. It provides a foretaste of His coming Kingdom, when everyone will experience a personal relationship with their Creator.
The Fifth Commandment to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12) sets the tone for the other commandments by addressing the importance of treating others with respect and consideration.
The Sixth Commandment forbidding murder (Exodus 20:13) emphasises that the gift of life is to be valued and respected. Jesus Christ amplified the meaning of "murder" to include animosity, contempt and hostility toward others (Matthew 5:21-22).
The Seventh Commandment prohibiting adultery (Exodus 20:14) protects the marital relationship, which is the foundation of strong families, and an important building block of society.
The Eighth Commandment forbids stealing (Exodus 20:15), highlighting the need to respect the rights and needs of others.The battle against selfishness begins in the heart. Generosity and service to others should take precedence over accumulating possessions.
The Ninth Commandment condemns bearing false witness or lying (Exodus 20:16). Loving relationships are not possible without truth and honesty.
The Tenth Commandment not to covet (Exodus 20:17) deals with respecting the property, possessions and spousal relationships of others. Rather than being focused on our own wants, God wants concern for others to be our motivation.
The Apostle John tells us "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" (1 John 5:2).