Have you spotted any attractive and desirable donkeys in your town lately? Probably not, although... I just came back from a short mission trip to Macedonia and there I saw a lot of donkeys. They were carrying heavy loads of firewood, while their owners guided them on the way home. In many parts of the world donkeys are still desirable means of transportation.
So, what's up with donkeys? Well, in my latest book My Neighbor's House I have taken a closer look at the tenth Commandment, yeah... the one about desiring someone else's house, wife or cattle. This Commandment tells us not to desire the wrong things. The most logical next question would be, “So how then do we desire the right things?” After all, we don’t really want to go through life with just a short list of do’s and don’ts as if we were programmed robots. As intelligent beings, we prefer explanations and reasons; surely the Bible must have an answer for us.
The first thing I noticed when studying this subject was that the apostle Paul wrote extensively about it. It almost seems like a war was constantly going on in him between good and bad desires, spiritual and natural desires. His writings were based on his personal experiences. He says in Romans 8:5, Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. His words should trigger the evaluation of our own lives. It is one thing to say we do not desire someone else’s stuff, but what do we desire? What is the longing of our heart? Are we happy and content with life? What does it mean to live in accordance with the Spirit, and what does the Spirit desire, anyway?
Both the Old and the New Testament talk about the desires of our human nature. The teaching of the Tenth Commandment is simple; don’t desire anything that is not yours. The teaching of the apostle Paul in the book of Romans goes beyond that restriction; make sure you set your mind on what the Spirit desires. It is clear that the instruction for us New Testament believers goes further than a simple prohibition; it urges us to seek the blessing behind it.
I remember when I was in high school, and at the beginning of each new semester we would receive our class schedule as well as class rules and restrictions. At first sight it seemed nothing but a set of instructions and regulations that would make our lives as students miserable. But then we learned that there was also room for a school dance, movies to watch, and field trips to make, which surely made life in school more pleasant. Learning and enjoying went hand in hand. This is how it often works with God’s Word. The Bible contains many laws, rules, and regulations—whatever you would like to call them. But that is not all there is, certainly not! The Bible contains promises, blessings, and insights, as well. When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He didn’t send him down the mountain in a hurry. He spent a long time talking with Moses and gave him various moral and religious laws, laws of justice and fairness, and even laws of healthcare.
Do you see His commandments as too hard, too complicated, out-of-date, not relevant or are you curious to find out more about the spiritual principle behind them?