Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the people around you. Deuteronomy 6:13
When I was a child, I loved my dad dearly, but I also had a healthy fear of him. My brothers, sisters, and I respected him, and if he told us to do something, we did it! I never wanted to disobey or disappoint him in any way. I honored his role as our father and I listened to his direction and guidance. He had high expectations for us, and they were to honor God, respect our parents, to work hard, and to be the best individuals we could possibly be.
God, our Father, deserves no less. He too has expectations for us. Among them were the 10 commandments that He gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai to give to the people, and in doing so, God made it very clear which one was of the highest priority.
This verse speaks to both the first and second of those commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before you; and 2) You shall not make yourselves a graven image or idol. God again makes it clear that we are to respect (fear) and honor Him, to serve only Him, and to have no other ”gods” or idols before Him. When God created us, He intended for us to love, worship, and glorify Him, as He alone is worthy of our worship.
If we were to be asked if we have any others gods we worship besides the one true God, I am sure our first reaction would be to say, “Of course not, I know there is only one God.”
But yet sadly, we all do have our “idols” in this 21st century culture we live in. When we think of “other gods” we tend to think of statues and objects made of wood or stone, reminiscent of those of pagan worshippers of long ago. Yet, an idol can be anything we place ahead of God in our lives.
In thinking about where our hearts and our passions lie, we need to examine the things that take up most of our time and efforts and keep us from focusing on Him. What things separate us from God? These “modern idols” can be our possessions, careers, relationships, hobbies, sports, entertainment, goals, greed, addictions to alcohol or drugs, fashion, pornography, or even our family and friends – anything can become our “god” if we are so devoted to it that it leaves little time or space in our hearts for Him.
Yet, as we come to know God more and trust Him with our lives, we learn that all other idolatrous pursuits will leave us empty and unsatisfied. If God is not placed first, it seems we are always searching for that one thing to fill our hearts and souls, that thing that will make us truly happy. But yet, it is only God who can fill the longings we have deep down in our hearts. Only He is worthy of our devotion. May we love and serve only Him. He alone deserves our honor and praise.
Dear God, we know that we can become so distracted by worldly pursuits that we often take our eyes off of you. Help us to search our hearts for where our passions lie and to refocus our priorities on you. You, Lord, are the only one who is worthy of our honor, glory, and praise. Thank you for loving us even when we don’t live up to your expectations for us. In your most holy name we pray. Amen