What is the first commandment? That we love the Lord our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength is what Jesus told us. Jesus, and the Jewish scholars of his day put a positive spin on the negative (do not) that Moses brought down from the mountain:
You shall have no other Gods before me
Have we loved the Lord perfectly in our life? Have I? Have you? Of course the answer is no, none of us has. Why?
Because we have not always considered God’s ways or wants or desires for our life. Truth be told, we are not very good at listening to the one we profess to love.
So, OK: we have not always felt love for God, but in our imperfect, human ways of love (like between lovers) we have sometimes shown what many of us think of as signs of love: we have been unhappy, dissatisfied, even angry at God. You might say, “We can’t help the way we feel,” a truism I question, but thus is life in this broken world. Sin runs so deep we do not even recognize it, whether we can help it or not.
Because in our soulish selves (our life) we have not loved God in our every word and deed. Instead, we have lived unto ourselves, to please ourselves and not to please God. And because of this our every word and deed has not glorified our beloved. Far from it.
OK. If you see what I am saying, you may wonder what all of this has to do with having other Gods before God. Very simply, if we are not considering God in our daily decisions (thoughts) who are we considering? If we are not feeling any great love for God at the moment, on who or what is our love presently focused? And how often is our life focused not on pleasing God but on pleasing and satisfying ourselves?
To defer to ourselves is to make a God of ourselves, and we prove ourselves to be the offspring of the one who believed the lie “That you shall be like God, knowing good from evil.” When we defer to the other relationships in our lives, family, friends, leaders, bosses, we make little gods of those others. Do we follow the what the news tells us, what our favorite candidate says, our favorite celebrity, our favorite talk show host? And so on… So who do we really love, believe in and follow?
Put the Lord your God first, always is the admonition. “Worship the Lord and Him only shall you serve.” But it is honestly hard to put God first and family second, isn’t it?
If this series of posts was intended to prove Paul’s words, that “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” I would not have to post again. No one has truly kept the first commandment. No one at all… but that leads to two very important considerations:
1. Thanks be to Jesus who bore our sins, shortcomings and offenses in his body on the cross. We know that to be guilty of one part of the law is to be guilty of it all. But through Jesus, we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Don’t be slow to give him thanks.
2. But under grace we must remember that grace was not given for license to sin. Though no longer a sword dangling over our head, this commandment remains the standard by which we are to live. I fail at it, daily, which does not mean I weep in guilt about it (and neither should you). But when I am aware of my shortfall, I try to let it inspire me to do better. And I keep trying. Though I fail seventy times seven times, I try. How about you? Are you still trying to please God, to always let God be your only God, or have you given up?