Do It Anyway

The Ten Commandments:  Recite them correctly and in their original order.

That can be a daunting assignment.

Whether or not we can recite the Ten Commandments, verbatim and in the same order as they appear in Exodus 20:1-17 or in Deuteronomy 5:1-21 (yes, the Ten Commandments are recorded twice in two different books of the Old Testament), most of us have heard about the Ten Commandments.  A condensed form of the Ten Commandments reads like this:

  1. You shall have no other gods but the Lord, your God.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
  4. Keep holy the Sabbath.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

Mere recitation of the Ten Commandments does not imply obedience to the Ten Commandments. Not all who spout the Ten Commandments “walk the talk.”

Biblical scholars in the 21st Century admit that they may never be able to interpret correctly the archaic language of the Ten Commandments, believed to have been spoken by Yahweh in 1450 B.C. The absolute language of the Ten Commandments does not address the thorny ambiguities in a life of reality and in the reality of life. For example, does filling one’s home with prized antique furniture and then featuring one’s home on a distinguished Home Tour constitute “making an idol”? Or, is attendance at a Buffalo Bills game on a Sunday instead of attendance of a Sunday worship service a violation of the fourth Commandment?

Double standards of preaching the Ten Commandments but not practicing the Ten Commandments as well as debates between the letter of the Law and the spirit of the Law can make the Ten Commandments an obstacle to knowing how we may love God, love others and love ourselves.

However, some introspective “translations” of the Ten Commandments can provide a clear and bold re-statement of how God calls each of us to live.

In 1968, the author and lecturer Kent M. Keith wrote the book, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council. In his book, Keith included the following “Paradoxical Commandments.”

  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them  anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

     This ten-point version of the Ten Commandments may be simply summarized:

Doing the right thing is rarely the easiest thing to do.
Do the right thing anyway.

     Within our family units, within our faith community and within our civic community, to shine the light of goodness into the darkness of evil is radically difficult.

Do it anyway.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara