Pieter van der Heyden and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Invidia (envy) personified,” 1558. (Image source: Kupferstich, 22,5 × 29,5 cm, Herrausgeber: Hieronymus Cock. Bibliothèque Royale, Cabinet Estampes, Brüssel. Via Wikimedia Commons.) The inscription at the bottom of the picture reads "Invidia horrendum monstrum, sævissima pestis" or "Envy is a horrible monster, a very savage plague." (Translation source: Visual sources database, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.) Wikimedia Commons [ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brueghel_-_Sieben_Laster_-_Invidia.jpg ] Visual sources database [ http://emotions.arts.uwa.edu.au/wiki/items/show/101 ]
ANSWER: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.
The ninth commandment enjoins us not to bear false witness against our neighbors. In Concise Theology, J. I. Packer gets at the reasons for this command: "One way of acknowledging the dignity of our neighbor, who is God’s image-bearer, is to recognize that he or she has a right to the truth. Truth-telling, which shows proper respect for facts, for our neighbor, and for God, thus becomes a fundamental element in true religion and in true love of one’s neighbor." (Tyndale, 1993; pp. 190-191; also available here)
A question for kids: Are there times when you are tempted to say things that aren't quite true about your friends, classmates, siblings, etc.? Why does not telling the truth about others seem so appealing?
A question for grown-ups: Do you think that living in the nation's capital, where so many of our jobs and social interactions are shaped by politics and the news media, makes it particularly tempting for us to break the ninth commandment? Why or why not?
A question for all of us: How does the teaching in James 3:1-12 (especially bracing in The Message version!) help us to see the power of our words to destroy or build up our neighbors, who are God's image-bearers?
The tenth commandment requires that we not covet--or become consumed with having for ourselves--things that belong to our neighbors. It is interesting that this law comes last in the list; it seems to be inextricably connected to the other nine commandments. Can you make some of these connections? In other words, how does coveting what belongs to others pave the way to committing the sins prohibited in commandments one through nine? Some thoughts on the interconnectedness of the commandments:
Finally, the tenth commandment denounces the specific attitude that leads to the breaking of all commandments (20:17). The word covet means to earnestly desire the specific possessions or persons attached to one's neighbor. Those who covet do not want a house or a woman. They want their neighbor's specific home or wife. Thus the desire fully realized is stealing or adultery. Similarly, rejecting the first four commands amounts to coveting God's authority. Just as faith leads to obedience (Gen 15:6), so does coveting lead to defrauding God and neighbor. Sin begins with one's desires.
----Paul House, Old Testament Theology (IVP, 1998), p. 114.