Since I am on break, I have started reading a new book. The title of the book is “Idols of the Heart,” written by Elyse Fitzpatrick. In chapter 3 she walks through the 10 commandments from the stand point of idolatry. I thought today I would just share some thoughts from her book.
God’s primary command is, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). How astonishing! By it, God demands our absolute and unequivocal devotion to Him alone. Only the “high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy” has the right to demand such fidelity.
This commandment is preeminent because it is impossible for us to obey any of the other nine if we fail to obey this one. Every part of our devotion, every act of obedience or disobedience, every thought, word, and deed, hang upon our adherence to this command. You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s a pretty sweeping statement,” but think with me for a moment as we review a few of the other commandm
- “Honor your father and your mother.” Don’t children fail to honor their parents because they have other gods such as their friends or the love of the world?
- “You shall not murder.” Whenever someone takes the life of another, isn’t that person saying, in essence, “I’m god. I can decide who will live and who will die”?
- “You shall not commit adultery.” Isn’t the taking of another’s spouse the worship of another god such as romance, excitement, power, or pleasure?
- “You shall not covet.” Strongly desiring anything that belongs to someone else is idolatry because it is the treasuring of something more than God and His will. As you can see, having “no other gods” is the hinge upon which our entire obedience hangs. That is because the command against idolatry is really a command to love, to “hang our hearts” on God alone. “To say that there is one God and no god but God is not simply an article in a creed. It is an overpowering, brain-hammering, heart-stopping truth that is a command to love the only one worthy of our entire and unswerving allegiance.” The sum of this commandment is that we must set God apart from everything else in our hearts and give Him a place of priority above all else. It means that by faith we are to seek to believe that He is as good and loving as He claims to be and that He will be to us the source of all good, all our joys.
As I put these thoughts into the context of what God has been teaching me / challenging me with, here is what this is saying to me.
When I allow my work and the pressures of ministry, to be in a place of priority over God in my heart, then I am not living in the way that God intended! Because God requires / expects / commands that He be set apart from everything else in our hearts and that He be given the place of priority above all else! I certainly have not been doing that recently. My times with God have not been times of communion and fellowship with God. They have been rote and duty. I have been so focused on the work that needs to be done and the pressures of managing things, that I have not been “devoted” to God, I have been “devoted” to my work, and it’s exhausting!
It means that by faith we are to seek to believe that He is as good and loving as He claims to be and that He will be to us the source of all good, all our joys.
Elyse goes on to say,
“The first commandment is primarily interested in my inward devotion: in it I am commanded to “love, fear, and trust in Him above all things.” Every sin, every idolatry in my heart, is rooted in lovelessness, thanklessness, and misplaced trust. Every time I worship something or someone other than God I forget that He’s a good Father and a great King who has brought me out of Egypt. By contrast, every truly godly act, including even the inner desire to be godly, springs out of the love and worship that He has placed in my heart. His grace causes me to delight in the law because I see it as the pattern for me to grow to be like Him.”
It’s amazing as I stop now, and look back, not only had I allowed the pressures of ministry to overwhelm me and consume me, but in that misplaced devotion, they have become my god, an idol that I have devoted all my energy, thoughts and time to! Wow! That’s a pretty sobering picture. I don’t want to be there anymore!
- Anything that consumes my thinking, my time, and my energy, apart from God, is an idol! misplaced devotion – God wants to have first place in my heart!
- I want to make God first priority in my life. I am committing to make time for him every day. If I am not able first thing, I will stop and make time during another part of the day! He needs to have first place!