Our Greatest Treasure (Commandment #10)
HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAYS 44
What is God’s will for you in the tenth commandment?
That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any one of God’s commandments should ever arise in my heart. Rather, with all my heart I should always hate sin and take pleasure in whatever is right.
But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?
No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.
No one in this life can obey the ten commandments perfectly: why then does God want them preached so pointedly?
First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness. Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection.
DEVOTIONAL: October 8-14
Our Greatest Treasure (Commandment #10)
The Heidelberg Catechism’s interpretation of the Tenth Commandment – “You shall not covet” – is a summary of the entire Decalogue. Its essential teaching is captured in the words of St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Or, as others have said, “Christ is to be the greatest treasure of our lives.” He is our greatest treasure because only He is able to restore and sustain the gifts of value, joy, and peace in human hearts.
The Tenth Commandment was given because we look away from God and toward other things to secure these gifts. More specifically, we tend to think and act on the assumption that children, family, job, career, or Church will satisfy our deepest hunger. Have you noticed, however, that it doesn’t work? Children move away or turn away. Spouses often betray or abandon their partners. Bosses routinely terminate an employee and end the hope of a vibrant career. Churches easily replace Christ-centered proclamation of truth and grace for a spectator driven weekly entertainment hour. And the fruit of it all? Lives that are depleted, robbed of value, joy, and peace.
So, God says, “You shall not covet.” Instead, Christ is to be the greatest treasure of your life (Philippians 3:1-11). He was clothed in our depleted lives so that we could be filled with riches and treasures of grace (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:1-10). What are some of the implications of this teaching? I will identify three.
First, since Christ is my greatest treasure, “I should always hate sin and take pleasure in what is right.” The best way to hate sin is to take pleasure in what is right. Too often we reduce the Christian life to simply fleeing from and hating sin. The natural consequence of the gospel of grace that leads to genuine repentance, however, is much more positive. Our guiding principle should be to first treasure Him so that we then learn to treasure His ways.
Second, since Christ is my greatest treasure, I should begin to live, “with all seriousness of purpose,” according to God’s commands. That is, as one whose restored life now imitates Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14, Ephesians 5:1-2), I will, among other things, treasure faithfulness in relationships, integrity in work, maturity in Church membership, justice in the treatment of women, equality for all ethnicities, and compassion toward the most vulnerable. God’s laws reflect God’s character and, therefore, exist to give expression to His desire for a safe, just, joy-filled, and peaceful society. Jesus taught us the true character of gospel seriousness: “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Finally, since Christ is my greatest treasure, I should “never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image.” Since He is my greatest treasure, His life will always be my greatest goal. He is the Alpha and Omega of my life, the author and perfecter of my faith, and the beginning and end of my obedience. As Paul states, we should “clothe” ourselves “with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14).
Of course, we are not able to do this with our own wisdom or in our own strength. Therefore, the Catechism calls us to pray “to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit.” Only the Spirit, through the Word, is able to equip us to “more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness,” and “to be renewed more and more after God’s image.” These words need to be carefully understood. The Catechism is not teaching that prayer is the power to get God to conform Himself to my desires. It is teaching that prayer is the exercise of fellowship that results from forgiveness of sin which, in turn, bears the fruit of renewed obedience as God’s image bearer. Let’s be blunt. If you don’t want your life to change, then don’t pray.
Do you look to Jesus to restore value, joy, and peace in your life? Is He the greatest treasure of your heart? As you contemplate that question, remember this important truth. His desire for our human value, joy and peace is always more gracious and generous than we would ever extend to ourselves or to others.
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn
Sunday, October 8
The Catechism states that God wants His ten commandments preached “so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.” Prayerfully read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. How do these words encourage you to make Jesus your greatest treasure in faith and life?
Monday, October 9
The Catechism states “that not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any one of God’s commandments should ever arise in my heart.” Yet, sinful thoughts and desires emerge in our hearts on a regular basis. Prayerfully read 1 John 1:5-2:2. How often do you turn to Christ for forgiveness? How often do you turn to Him to grow in righteousness?
Tuesday, October 10
The Catechism states that “with all my heart I should always hate sin and take pleasure in whatever is right.” Prayerfully read Galatians 5:16-26. The fruit of the Spirit is another way to describe a life clothed in Jesus Christ. How do these words encourage you to prayerfully live with Christ as your greatest treasure?
Wednesday, October 11
The Catechism states that “In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.” Prayerfully read Romans 3:9-26 (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 64:6). It has been said that we are not nearly as good as we make ourselves out to be, that others are not nearly as bad as we perceive them to be, and that we share one thing in common: we equally require grace. How does this nourish your humble dependence on Christ and stir patient compassion for others?
Thursday, October 12
The Catechism states that “with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.” Prayerfully read Philippians 3:12-16. The good news is that the Lord has graciously taken hold of us in Jesus Christ. Those who repent and believe are without a doubt His children. How will you now press on to live the serious purpose of the gospel?
Friday, October 13
The Catechism states that God wants His ten commandments preached “so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection.” Prayerfully read 1 John 3:1-3. How does your identity as a child of God today stir your hunger to meet your greatest treasure face-to-face in the future?
Saturday, October 14
Prayerfully read Philippians 3:1-11. How do these words challenge and redefine the greatest treasure(s) of your heart and life?