No other gods before me. (vs.20:3)
If God intends this command to be followed literally, I’m golden. I don’t desire to explore other religious doctrines or worship other gods – not because I’m intellectually ignorant, but because I completely accept the Truth of scripture and the Gospel of Jesus.
If however, there is a greater intention in this command….well.
The first definition of “god” in the dictionary is, as it should be, the one true god: the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority.
But as the list goes on, the definition becomes more and more diluted, until it lands on: a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.
In Moses’ day, they worshiped Baal, the god of materialism. Ashtoreth, the god of sex and romance. And many other common and customized gods.
There’s a temptation to skim over this first commandment, comfortable in the knowledge that I don’t spend my days bowing down to idols, expecting them to have divine power. Or do I?
I don’t worship Baal. Of course. But wow…I can spend an entire weekend obsessing over our latest home improvement project…binge-watching home shows on TV and devouring ideas online…wallowing in discontent.
I don’t worship Ashtoreth. But I’m easily and often consumed by having (or not having) a certain body type…or level of romance.
God’s first commandment of Exodus Twenty – no other gods before me – seems simple enough, when framed on the dining room wall or read in Sunday school. But digging deeper, it’s clear that I am tempted by the same idol worship today, that the Israelites struggled with thousands of years ago. Any time I spend more time and energy focusing on and delighting in some thing, than delighting in the one true God, I’m not honoring him. And I will be discontent.
Decorating…sports…friendships…DIY projects…movies…television…cars…(the list goes on and on and on). Things I’m incredibly thankful for, but should never worship. Things I absolutely enjoy, but should never be allowed to have power over my mind, body and emotions.
Power is reserved for God. And for God alone.