I would like to look at the remainder of the Ten Commandments today. These are found in Exodus Chapter 20 in verses 12 to 17, and they are summed up by part of Jesus summary of the Law, “Love your neighbour as yourself”
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Other than “Honour your Father and Mother”, these are all negatives. is this necessarily a bad thing? I would contend that they are good. Not simply because they are from God, but because if we all obey them, then we are safe from others doing such ills to us.
I know that I want to be able to walk down any street in my locality without having to keep a watchful eye out for muggers or assailants and I would imagine most other folks would feel the same, whether they are Christian or not. I have just spent today fishing and it would have been most uncomfortable to say the least had I had to wear a kevlar vest for protection.
Most crime, especially crime against the person, I have been told involves the desire to obtain something that someone else has, usually money, power, or sex. So it would seem that coveting is a motivator for much murder, theft, perjury and adultery.
Jesus told His followers “You are the salt of the Earth” and “You are the light of the World” In a society led by politicians in all parties whose behaviour with regard to expenses claims doers not stand the sniff test (if it smells fishy it is fishy) we need to be salt and light. Salt preserving the good and adding savour and taste, and light, so that our own conduct is exemplary and brings glory to God and not dishonour to His Name.
You may say that we are told not to judge so that we will not be judged, but I believe that this is a translation that has changed in meaning from the time when it was first translated, and would better be described as do not be condemnatory and you will not be condemned.
The first point i will make is this. Our conduct, if we do keep to the rules which we have to obey, will be such as to shed light on the conduct of others who choose to disobey the rules and is shown in a harsh relief when compared to honest conduct. Others will see the difference and will make comparisons, whether good or bad, laudatory or condemnatory, and that is for them to deal with when the time comes.
The second point I would like to make is this. In some organisations, dishonesty seems to be an integral part of the set up. In such a case we need to decide whether we can remain within the organisation, and that will mean watching our backs, or whether we should resign. For a person who is the sole breadwinner for a family these are not easy choices. We also need to remember that being educated does not guarantee having high ethical standards. I have been told by a company director where I was an employee, “You are asking the wrong question. You should be asking ,’How will anyone find out'” about a dishonest transaction. As a general rule, the boss sets the tone for the whole organisation.
Thirdly, you already know what will happen. Jesus told us that the world would revile and hate us just as it hated Him. So be prepared, at all times so that you are not ambushed. It is fair to say that there is little that one person can do, unless they are in a senior position in an organisation, about the ethics of that organisation. In my own field, I chose to be self-employed to avoid being instructed to perform actions that I strongly suspected were dishonest because there was little honest commercial logic to them.
Fourthly, be aware that others will see you and listen to what you say. One of my favourite management text books is from the late 1960’s, called ‘Up The Organisation’ by a man called Robert Townsend. He was the chief executive of Avis Car Hire in the 1960’s when they had the “We Try Harder” campaign. Townsend said in his book, ‘Be inconsistent. Don’t publish company policy, even within the company. If you are absolutely forced to, print and distribute copies of the Ten Commandments. If you live by them, and work by them, then you will do good business with your customers because you will treat them fairly’
Finally, pray though all of your big decisions. Be sure that you have been honest with God about what you want to do and why you want to do it. And when you do love your neighbour, by doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, it will not always be easy, but at least you will sleep at night.