As we learned in the last question, God’s top ten commands can be easily split into two groups. We call these groups the “two tables of the law.” The first four commands are four different ways to love God with all of our hearts. But what about the last six? Let’s look at them and see if there’s anything they have in common.
Once again, we can find them in Exodus chapter 20. Briefly, they are: “5) Honor your father and your mother… 6) You shall not murder. 7) You shall not commit adultery. 8) You shall not steal. 9) You shall not give false testimony… 10) You shall not covet...” (Ex. 20:12-17)
Did you notice any theme to these commands? While the first four commandments are different ways to love and worship God, the last six commandments are different ways to love people. And just like the First Table of the Law points us to the First Great Commandment, the Second Table of the Law points us to the… you guessed it – the Second Great Commandment!
This super command is in the Bible a couple of times and written in a couple different ways. In Leviticus 19:18, it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And in Matthew 7:12, Jesus puts it a slightly different way: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
Both of these verses are designed to teach us the same thing. The Second Great Commandment tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. It teaches us how to treat others in every situation. We should be as kind and loving and honest to them as we would want them to be to us. This commandment is so popular it even has a nickname: “the Golden Rule.”
In the coming chapters, we’ll look closely at each of these “Second Table” commandments. But as we do, it’s important to never lose sight of one big idea: the Second Great Commandment! Commandments five through ten give us six different examples of how to love the people around us: to treat them how we would like to be treated.
Most of them begin with the words “do not.” They tell us what not to do. But if we keep the Second Great Commandment in mind, we’ll also know what God wants us to do. He doesn’t want us to simply be honest people who do not steal, but also generous people who do share their things with others. Rather than only being truthful people who do not lie, God is even more pleased when we are kind people who do speak the truth in a loving way.