A lot of people seem to think negatively about the Ten Commandments. They treat them as a list of things that an oppressive God is depriving them of. There are a lot of subjects I could cover and show how this is wrong, but I want to just look at the last half for now.
In a quick summary, the last half tells us to not bare false witness (give untrue testimony), steal, murder (notice murder, not kill), cheat, or covet. What do all these have in common other than specifically dealing with a person’s relationship with society in general? It comes down to being content with what you have and earn. All of these are most frequently committed in the quest to obtain something someone else has at their personal expense.
Now the beauty of capitalism is that, if you like something that someone else has, you can work for and get something similar or offer to buy an item if the person wishes to sell it. It could be a certain job, house, car, social standing, or even relationship. The problem comes when a person covets that specific item and isn’t happy or willing to work and acquire another. If the person goes this route, he or she may do any of the other things to try to get it. He or she may lie to get the other person wrongfully fired from the desired job. Maybe he or she steals the desired car or tries luring the person’s spouse away to destroy the relationship. Maybe he or she murders the person so the house will go up for sale. (Or if the entity is a government, it may lie and wrongfully imprison people to get property as we have seen most recently in Oregon.) No matter how the person does or tries to do it, both lives may be negatively affected but the covetous person’s life will bear the brunt of it.
Nothing would have been wrong if the person had decided to work for a similar item or lifestyle. When a person is content with what he or she has, he/she won’t feel the need to take from someone else. The person will be patient to work towards the desired outcome or ownership, but until then enjoy his/her current state. I think the underlying message of the last five Commandments is that a person is better off being content with what he or she has. The key is in the mindset.
In my opinion, this fact is driven home in Matthew 5. Christ gives two 10-Commandment specific examples of the importance of mindset. In this section where He fulfills (not does away with, but fills to its fullest) the law, He gives many examples of how the physical relates to the mental. He is trying to show the people that it is not enough to just refrain from an action, but that they should grow to where the thought to do it never even crosses their minds. This is what being content does. It prevents a person from sinning against others because in that person’s mind there is no reason to.
Content is what I try to be and what I am. I do have several things I am working towards, but I remind myself daily – all things in due time. I don’t need it all at once. If I did, I wouldn’t appreciate it. I have everything that I truly need anyway. I love the feeling of honestly answering “Nothing” when I am asked what I need. Contentment is a wonderful thing.