Exodus 20:2

‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’
Exodus 20:2
Have you ever considered how we have to perform in every area of our lives? If we don’t perform well enough in the band, choir or sports, we are cut or don’t play. If our performance isn’t good enough in school, we don’t pass or get into college. If we can’t perform well in our job, we might be fired. Our performance, day in and day out, is woven into every aspect of our lives. As much as we desire it not to be, it can even be tied into our friendships. If a friend lets us down, or doesn’t meet our expectations, we may stop hanging out with them.
This is the opposite in our relationship with God, and it’s truly unique. We haven’t had to, and never will have to perform, or meet a certain standard for Him to love us. It’s while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Yet even if we know God loves us unconditionally, why do we still feel the need to perform and behave well?
One reason we feel this need, is because we misunderstand grace. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved gift of love that God has given and continually gives to us. This side of history we know the perfect example of God’s grace came to us as Jesus. Yet even before Jesus enters the scene, the Bible reveals to us in numerous ways we have a gracious God.
Even when we read the most well-know list of rules, the Ten Commandments, we find grace.  However, we can miss His grace when we forget the context of the Ten Commandments and chose to only see it as a list of dos and don’ts. Think back to the time when Moses received them. First, God heard the cry of His people and delivered them out of slavery. He is the gracious God who parted the Red Sea, led his people by a pillar of fire at night through the desert, provided quail and mana for His people to eat along the way, and led them to Mt. Sinai where they received the Ten Commandments. Knowing this context, it’s imperative that we don’t miss the verse right before the Ten Commandments begin, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’
When we read the Ten Commandments within the correct context, the list of rules transforms into a list of statements. So instead of reading the first commandment as, ‘you shall have no other gods before me.’ We can read the first commandment as, ‘because God is gracious and faithful to bring His people out of slavery, it wouldn’t make sense to have another god than God’.
As we begin to read each commandment through the lens of verse two – since God brought His people out of the land of slavery, it only makes sense to use His name correctly and not in vain. And because of His grace, it makes sense to rest a day a week so we can remember our deliverance from slavery. Because God is gracious and delivers His people, it is silly to think that we would murder, tell a lie or steal from anyone that God has created and loves so deeply.
This side of the cross we know that God didn’t just set his people free from slavery, He also set us free from sin. We can rest in a God who isn’t demanding our performance to follow His rules.  Rather, we see Him for who He is – a God who I merciful and gracious, slow to anger and full of steadfast love. Let this motivate you as you follow Him today.

Jay Quick | Student Ministries Director

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