I have been thinking a lot about college ministry the last few weeks as we are launching a new college ministry at our church and as we will be seeing and serving more college students this fall. As this new college year begins for tons of Christians, here are the 10 commandments for college students; applied from the commandments the Lord gave Moses.
John Piper, who clearly articulates we are not under the Ten Commandments, stated, “Love God and do as you please is not bad advice if you are bent on holiness. If you are bent on love, the Ten Commandments are really important. You should hang them on your wall and live your life by them, but in a very different way than when you were under them, because they have been kept for you.”
Because Christ kept them for us, we obey out of love and gratitude. Since Christ has perfectly fulfilled the Law on our behalf and given us His perfect record, we are not under the Law. The Law no longer speaks against us because Christ has spoken for us. But as believers we delight in His truth and His commands, and we can look to the “ten sayings” — through the lens of the gospel — for clarity and direction on how we should now live as the rescued people of God. When the Lord gave the commandments to Israel, He gave them to the people He had liberated from slavery, the people He miraculously rescued.
1. Seek Christ first (Do not have other gods besides Him).
There is so much you can seek after in college, as a whole new world of choices is available to you. In the midst of everything you can join and all the activities that are available to you, seek Him first. Only Christ has rescued you and only He can satisfy you.
2. Beware of idols, even the good ones. (Do not make an idol for yourself)
Because, as John Calvin once commented, “our hearts are idol factories,” we have the temptation to take good things – such as grades, friends, career options, even Christian campus ministries – and bow before them. Don’t give your ultimate affections to those things.
3. Study in His name (Do not misuse the name of the Lord).
You carry His name if you are His. You represent Him to your professors and fellow students. “Do everything in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17). Offer your studies to Him, as if He is your professor.
4. Rest and reflect on Him (Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy).
As His son or daughter, you are always at rest from your works to earn His favor and love. But take time each week to slow down, to rest, to reflect on His goodness to you.
5. Honor those who helped you get here (Honor your father and mother).
Many college students can point to a parent or both parents for their love, encouragement, and example in paving the way for college. Some look to a caregiver or mentor. Whoever helped you get here, honor them by giving your best while you are at college.
6. Love people (Do not murder).
Jesus said that if we hate someone we have already committed murder in our hearts. You will make a massive impact in this season in your life if you love people in Christ’s name. Love justice and offer mercy. Show hospitality to those who are lonely.
7. Be wise and self-controlled (Do not commit adultery).
Jesus said if we lust after someone we have already committed adultery in our hearts. You have grown up in an extremely challenging time, a time with unprecedented digital access to sexual images. Your freedom is going to be expanded even more. To overcome temptation will take more than willpower; it will take wisdom and Holy Spirit empowered self-control.
8. Be thankful for all the Lord has given you. (Do not steal).
The Lord has graciously given you all that you currently steward. Be thankful for what He has given you and you won’t desire to steal from others.
9. Care about your character (Do not give false testimony).
There will be lots of temptations for “small” integrity lapses – for “small cheating.” Small lapses in integrity now often turn into larger lapses in integrity later. Tell the truth. Care about your character. Guard your integrity in the small things.
10. Don’t compare. (Do not covet)
If you compare yourself to others the result will always be hubris or envy. If you don’t compare, you won’t covet. Joyfully live the life the Lord has given you.
Just as the Lord gave the commandments to a community of people, throw yourself into a community of Christ-followers. The faith is meant to be lived out in community and you need community to encourage you to live out your faith. Find a church your first semester. Throw yourself fully into that church. Attend, serve, and love that church.