Years ago, my husband and I got an estimate on remodeling our house. One of the first steps was to ask the contractor to examine the foundation in order to determine if it was strong enough for the new construction. When he did so, he reported that the pilings had so weakened that anyone who walked across the floor above them was in danger of falling through. Without hesitation, my husband and I decided to rebuild the old pilings, and thus strengthen the foundation of our home.
The foundation of our nation seems to be crumbling. The “pilings” which we sometimes call values—integrity, mutual respect, love, loyalty, sexual purity, to name just a few—no longer seem to hold up under the “construction” of political polarization, racial prejudice, the threat of a pandemic and rioting in the streets.
While we may feel helpless to do anything about the collapse of our nation’s foundation, we can strengthen the foundation of our own lives.
What are the pilings, or values, on which you are building your life? What are the core principles that you live by?
Observing our society at large, the values seem to center around these two notions: “If it works, and I can get by with it, it’s OK,” and “As long as it makes me happy, won’t get me canceled and will help me blend in with everyone else’s opinions and actions, it’s acceptable.”
I think it’s time to re-check our foundation. Which pilings are weak? Which pilings could be strengthened?
Read Exodus 20:1-17
- According to Exodus 20:1, where do the values listed in the Ten Commandments come from?
- Give a phrase from each of the following verses that underscores the source of our values: Deuteronomy 5:12, 15-16, 22, 32-33.
- What gives God the right to establish our values? See Genesis 1:1.
I. THE FOUNDATION OF SPIRITUAL VALUES
A. GOD IS TO BE PREEMINENT (Exodus 20:3)
- What are some other gods that are commonly placed first in our lives? Read 1 Timothy 6:10; Luke 21:34; 1 Peter 4:3; Colossians 3:5; Jeremiah 45:5; 1 John 2:15-17.
- How does Jesus confirm, and restate, the value of putting God first, in Matthew 22:37-38?
- What action will you take to streng-then this foundational piling of giving God preeminence in your life?
B. GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPPED (Exodus 20:4)
- How is the very nature and character of God distorted today? See Romans 1:21-23, 25, 28-32; 2:4.
- How can you improve the clarity of your focus on God? See Job 33:26; Psalm 14:2; 119:11; John 1:18.
- Explain what Jesus meant in John 4:24.
- Are you the kind of worshipper God seeks? Read John 4:22-23.
C. GOD IS TO BE HONORED (Exodus 20:7)
- How is this value reaffirmed in Leviticus 19:12? In 22:32?
- What do you think it means to profane God’s Name?
- Is it possible to profane God’s Name by calling yourself a Christian, yet not acting like one?
D. GOD IS TO BE FOLLOWED (Exodus 20:8)
- How did God set the example for us in Genesis 2:2-3?
- Give phrases from Exodus 20:9-11 that refer to the basis for this value.
- Put into your own words what you learn from Isaiah 58:13-14. How can you practically apply this value to your daily life? What blessings will be received from following God’s example in your weekly schedule?
- What will you do to set apart one day in every seven in order to follow God more closely?
II. THE FOUNDATION OF SOCIAL VALUES
A. FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT (Exodus 20:12)
- What is one way to honor your parents? See Ephesians 6:1.
- How are we to guard and interact with family members, according to Luke 17:3? Romans 14:10, 13? 1 Corinthians 8:13? 1 Thessalonians 4:6? James 4:11? 1 John 4:21? 5:16?
- Do you think Matthew 22:39 applies to your attitude toward family members?
- What will you do to improve your family relationships?
B. HUMAN LIFE IS SACRED (Exodus 20:13)
- What is the basis for the sacredness of human life, in Genesis 1:27?
- How does the creation principle for capital punishment stated in Genesis 9:6 relate to this piling?
- How does Jesus reinforce this principle in Matthew 5:21-24?
- Recognizing that all human life is sacred, how are we to treat others? See Acts 10:34; Ephesians 4:2, 32; Luke 6:31; Romans 12:10; 13:8.
- If you have not treated others as you should, what hope is there for you? See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
- What difference would it make in the way you treat others if you viewed each person as one of inestimable eternal worth, created, loved and died for by God?
C. SEX HAS LIMITS (Exodus 20:14)
- Who thought of sex in the first place? See Genesis 2:20-25.
- How does Jesus affirm God’s original idea, in Matthew 19:4-6?
- What limits has God placed on sex? See Leviticus 18:5-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 18; 7:2; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
- What are some practical things you can do to not only maintain your sexual purity, but help your children maintain theirs?
D. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY (Exodus 20:15)
- Where does lying originate, according to John 8:44?
- Where does it lead? See Revelation 21:8.
- What are some of the benefits of being honest? 1 Kings 9:4-5; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 25:21; Proverbs 11:3; 13:6.
- How is Jesus’ example in Matthew 22:16 to be reflected in your own life, according to Titus 2:7-8?
E. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY (Exodus 20:16)
- How does this piling reach all the way to Heaven? See Isaiah 45:23; John 1:1, 14; 14:6.
- How are your words to reflect His? See Matthew 5:37; James 5:12.
- What do you think are the “empty words” of Ephesians 5:6 and 1 Thessalonians 2:5? The controversial words in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:14? The powerless words in Colossians 2:4 and 1 Thessalonians 1:5?
- Take a moment now and pray Psalm 19:14 for yourself.
F. BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE (Exodus 20:17)
- What is the source of your contentment, according to Proverbs 19:23?
- How does your relationship with God directly impact your peace of mind? Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6.
While our society may be offended by the public posting of the Ten Commandments—our “foundational pilings”—I wonder if it’s time for you and me, as individuals, to read them, study them, apply them and live by them. Today, begin writing them on the tablet of your heart. Then, together, we will strengthen the foundation of our nation. ©2021 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in October 2005.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.