Truth and love

12) What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?

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.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Telling the truth

God does not lie. (Isaiah 45:19; Titus 1:2) And Jesus is “the faithful and true witness.” (Revelation 3:14) So His word can be trusted (II Corinthians 1:19,20) – and His people, reflecting His character, must also be trustworthy. This applies above all in the public sphere (such as the law court), but is also relevant to our private conversations. Should we pass on rumours, or information from dubious sources, without first verifying the facts? Misinformation, flattery and exaggeration can cause others to make wrong decisions (Proverbs 26:28; 29:5). Careless words can do incalculable and uncontrollable damage, like a forest fire (James 3:5,6). When malicious office (or church) gossip threatens to undermine someone’s character or reputation, who tries to stand up for the truth?

But the truth is a powerful weapon, and can do harm as well as good. It must therefore be tempered with love (Ephesians 4:15). “Truth without love is brutal; love without truth is sentimentality.” Unfortunately, the words, “I’m saying this in love,” can strike fear into one’s heart; they are almost invariably the prelude to something hurtful or critical. But love is no excuse for cruel speech. Rather, love should cause us to stop and consider:
1) Should I be saying this at all? (Proverbs 12:23; 17:27,28)
2) Am I actually being arrogant or hypocritical? (Matthew 7:3-5)
3) Have I chosen my words carefully? (Proverbs 25:11)

It matters not only what we say, but when and how we say it. Criticism is sometimes necessary; but the way in which it is said can make it either constructive or destructive. Praise is usually encouraging and upbuilding – but if overdone it can foster vanity and pride. So great wisdom is required for using our tongues; they can be put to good use or to evil (Proverbs 12:18; Ephesians 4:29).

Read more about the ninth commandment here.

Being content

This is the last commandment – but by no means the least. Lest we should fall into the trap of believing that outward observance of all the others would suffice, it deals with our inward attitude: the attitude that puts ‘Me’ and my wants above all else.

The idolisation of things is the predominant religion in all cultures. Most people are motivated by ambition or greed (Ecclesiastes 4:4). This is why and how advertising works. Consequently, society runs on (and is also dictated by) acquisitiveness and competitiveness. A vicious circle is set up in which our most destructive urges are pandered to, encouraged, and cultivated. Political and economic thinking ends up being locked into the mindless pursuit of an ever-increasing (and ultimately unsustainable) standard of living – because money is addictive (Ecclesiastes 5:10). And most of the time, we do not realise what is going on.

The world tells us to seek money, status and power. But it cannot guarantee that we shall get what we desire (Haggai 1:9). If we really put a greater value on heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:19,20) than on the empty status symbols of our contemporary culture, then we shall not pursue them. And then we shall indeed find self-fulfilment (Matthew 5:6). “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Read more about the tenth commandment here.


God of our salvation,
Help us to turn away from those habits
Which harm our bodies
And poison our minds
And to choose again Your gift of life,
Revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
              (Collect for 5th Sunday before Lent)

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