Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2011: The First Commandment

I'll be starting a series on the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were a gift from God which marked us as His people. This is how He wanted His people to live.

The First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"
What does it mean to have no other gods? Back in the Roman Empire, one of the Caesars wanted people to consider him to be a god. They had to bow to him. They had to bow to statues of him. They had to worship him. Not only that but they couldn't pray to any other gods. In particular, they couldn't worship Jesus. If they did, the government would hunt them down and kill them. That was bad.

What else does "Thou shalt have no other gods" mean? People also used to worship non-living things like statues, or animals. We call them idols. They thought that these statues or animal spirits controlled the universe. They figured if they could make these "spirits" happy, the spirits would bless them and take care of them and maybe make them rich. But in reality all they were praying to were rocks and animals and trees which could do nothing for them. The sad part is that other people have made money by tricking them into thinking that they could control the universe. This was a lie. We call these superstitions.

Now most of us do not worship rocks or trees or humans. Most of us try not to be superstitious. But there is one more meaning to the First Commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods" which applies to us. The first commands that "we are not to have anything more important in out lives than God." We are to put our trust in Him only. But sometimes people put their trust in other things. For example, they put their trust in money. They think: "If I have enough money, then everything will go well in my life." "If only I had enough money, I wouldn't have to worry about bad things happening to me." "If I have enough money then I will be happy."

But scripture warns us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Making "money" your god is evil. Even the world realized this was so: "Money can't buy happiness." Yet, while the world recognized that "money isn't everything," it never seems to tell you what is "everything".

However, the Bible tells us what that "everything" is. The Ten Commandments tell us what that "everything" is. That "everything" which brings happiness, that "everything" which brings security and protection, that "everything" which brings love to you, is God. That's why the Ten Commandments says "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Because God is the source of all good, all happiness, all security and protection, all love. And because of Jesus Christ, you know God. You shall have no other gods because you do not need any other gods. You shall have no other gods because God who is "everything" is here with you. And the God who is "everything" loves you and has plans of good for you and will take care of you always.