No Other gods

Exodus 20:3 (ESV)
 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

This seems like a pretty straightforward commandment, yet it is one of the most oft-broken ones of them all. This commandment is not just referring to other gods from the many false religions that exist, but also in anything that takes precedence in the heart above God. Notice the word “before”, meaning in Hebrew as “in preference to me,” or “in my presence”, or “in competition with me.”

As His created beings, we certainly owe Him at least such allegiance. Yet, we fail so miserably.

We are, by nature, a religious creature. You may argue this point, but think beyond the concept of organized religion for a moment. We constantly are seeking something to worship, whether a person or thing. A thing could be an activity, a TV show, an object such as money, clothing, or any of the other materialistic “necessities” of life society says we must acquire. As Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).

Our worship could be the pleasures of life. Philippians 3:18-19 states, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Such pursuits can be as addictive as any drug.

 Some may fall victim to material possessions and the desire for money. We read in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

 Even others find their god within themselves or others. Paul states in Romans 1:25,“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” How often we see this today. We idolize athletes, movie stars, and even ourselves through self-promotion vehicles such as Facebook, Instagram, and so forth. If we’re not externally focused on another human being, we are inwardly focused on our own self-aggrandizement.

There are also those who are so busy with plans and projects that there is no room for God. If not our work, then our recreation time consumes us. We not only do this to ourselves, but we do this to our children as well. God forbid there be a day without any planned activity! I recommend you read about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and ask yourself, why did Jesus rebuke Martha?

Plain and simple, we can make a god out of anything. Whether it is self, entertainment, immorality, money, or anything else that has priority in our life, it is not God’s desire that He is placed second to anything. Our God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24; Joshua 24:19) and demands priority in our life.

Now, let me close by saying there is nothing wrong with any activity that in itself is not sinful. It only becomes sinful when we place it above Him. I’m not promoting an austere life devoted to chanting psalms and hymns 24/7. God created us for fellowship with others. We were made to delight in being His children, in using the talents He bestows and in participating in the pleasures He offers. But, we must remember we were not created for the sole purpose of seeking pleasure, but rather for having a relationship with Him.

Examine your own lives – is there something keeping you from fulfilling His purpose for you? Give it a lower priority today and “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).