Jesus gave the 1st principle of immigration in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.” Stranger means foreigner. The Lord required Israel to, “show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19) “Do not take advantage of foreigners... love them as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:33-34) However, that does not mean being silly doves. There are dangers. “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners… Worshiping foreign gods… like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help.” (Hosea 7:8-12) Love and welcome foreigners, but be aware of danger.
In the Ten Commandments “Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7, Romans 13:9) means don’t desire or take pleasure in your neighbor’s things. We may rightly covet what is allowed. Adam and Eve could eat from any tree they rightly desired, except one (Genesis 2:9). They coveted the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6). Coveting God’s law is good (Psalm 19:9-10). Righteous people coveted seeing Christ (Matthew 13:17). Jesus earnestly desired eating the Last Supper with his disciples (Luke 22:15). Pastors covet their churches' spiritual success (Hebrews 6:11). So, the 1st principle of desire is “taking pleasure in” what is ours and not our neighbor’s.
Deception and lies are everywhere. The Bible says that “courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed” (Isaiah 59:14). Habitual liars have no credibility, no authority. People “will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). We cannot trust politicians who are obligated to campaign contributors because “a bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth” (Exodus 23:8). A nation of false advertising and legalized deception cannot be free. Only “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20). Honesty is the first principle of trust.
Theft is everywhere today. The Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). What we possess is not ours forever. We get and we give. Getting by giving something comparable in return is honest business. Getting by burglary, bank robbery, embezzlement, fraud, piracy, shoplifting, vandalism, annexation, swindling, kidnapping, deceptive pricing, rigged scales, overcharging, and underpaying are wrong. There is another way. Possessions provide us an opportunity to give as much as we can. God’s way is the opposite of stealing, marked by selfless giving rather than selfish getting. Jesus gave the 1st principle of possession, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
Faithfulness makes marriages last. Temptation is everywhere, before and after marriage. A key to marital faithfulness is resisting temptation by avoiding dangerous situations. A foolish generation has been so focused on money, education and equality that it has placed marriages in lethal danger. Faithfulness is a habit we develop before we marry, by saving ourselves for one person alone. Loyalty beforehand makes it is easier to continue during marriage. The Ten Commandments summarize this with the rule “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). By remaining virgins before marriage, young men and women are developing their faithfulness to a future spouse. By remaining true after marriage, men and women are protecting the integrity of the basic building block of society, the family.
The commandment “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) is bigger than violent crime alone. Jesus expanded it saying, “if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:22) Murder often results from uncontrolled anger and name-calling reveals an attitude that disregards life. Jesus further explains the first principle of valuing human life: If possible be reconciled. (Matthew 5:24) Do we value human life, the unborn, poor, those without health care, and immigrants?
Do we have no time for important things? Does the Bible have an answer? The first principle of time use is in the Ten Commandments, “Remember the Sabbath.” (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) For Christians the Sabbath is understood in principle and not the letter, because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6) The Sabbath principle is bodily rest one day in seven, worshiping weekly in a church community, agricultural land rest, forgiveness of debts, and annual festivals rehearsing key events of our faith. The Sabbath principle is good for body and soul. The first principle of time use is planning key weekly time for God.
Contempt for God is spreading out of control. What is the basis of respect for God? The Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) That includes not abusing God’s name or reputation in a manner that makes Him appear to be worthless, not claiming God’s authority for strictly human decisions or traditions, not bringing God disrespect by living as a hypocrite, and not falsely swearing by His name. Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9) Could respect begin with how we use the Lord’s name, treating God with great honor and reverence?
What is the first principle of worship? The 10 Commandments tell us not to make any graven images, bow down to or serve them (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5). Does that forbid art work, pictures and statues? God instructed Israel to embroider pomegranates and cherubs for the Tabernacle (Exodus 26, 28, 36, 39), cherub statues for the mercy seat (Exodus 25, 37) and a bronze snake on a pole (Numbers 21). These pictures and statues were not idols. They were not to be worshipped. Israel DID later worship the snake and so it was destroyed. Therefore, the first principle of worship is that we do not bow down to, nor serve anything or anyone in place of God (Deuteronomy 6:13).
What is the second greatest principle of life? Jesus said it: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27). This is phrased different ways throughout the Bible. Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself (Leviticus 19:33-34). Along with the command to love God, loving neighbor is core of the Christian way of life.