December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“You shall have no other gods before me.”—Exodus 20:3 (NIV)
After reminding the people of Israel He was the Lord God who freed them from slavery in the land of Egypt, God lays out His first and foremost commandment, the fulcrum upon which the entire Torah (the law of Moses) and all of human existence rests: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
This first commandment reminds us that everything is meant to flow from our love and singular devotion to God, which is in reality a response to the attributes and person of God. Nothing in life should concern us more or compete with our desire to love and be loved by God, to know Him and be known by Him, or to worship and submit to Him. The words “before me” are Hebrew idiom and equivalent to “beside me” or “in addition to me.” Therefore, it’s clear this commandment requires the worship of God alone.
God wasn’t saying, “I must be your first object of worship amongst many,” like the polytheistic cultures of then and now. Instead, He was declaring there’s to be no other object of worship in our lives.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV) says, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Not only does this point us to God being a triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit), but it also tells us He’s the only one worthy of our worship. God is the fulcrum of all existence, the center point in which all things are made and sustained. If the Israelites found themselves worshipping another “god” before or in addition to Yahweh, they would, in reality, be worshipping nothing. They’d be placing their devotion and faith in either non-existent beings or created things like the sun, stars, animals, or elements of nature, all of which were created by God and meant to worship and glorify Him!
Sadly, we constantly find ourselves making other things objects of worship! This is what Paul meant in Romans 1:25 (NIV) when he said, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
Today, we might not be worshipping birds, animals, or reptiles, but we might be worshipping money, power, fame, security, comfort, recognition, sex, validation, entertainment, or many other things that make terrible gods because they have no power to save and sustain, only to put us into bondage. But when we worship God alone, when we put our trust in God through Christ, we experience life to the fullest, we’re able to thrive, and, most of all, we get to walk in right relationship with our Creator, one another, and the world He gave us dominion over.
Friends, today I encourage you to ask the Spirit to search your heart. Are there any “gods” in your life that occupy the space reserved for God, that you put any level of trust, hope, or identity in? Today and every day, you can choose to forsake any dependency you may have in anything else and live in submission and devotion.
Pause: Why did God make this the first commandment?
Practice: Search your heart in prayer, asking the Spirit to reveal any areas where you may have made anything other than God your object of worship.
Pray: Father, You are the best Father to us. You are the path to peace, hope, and grace. I pray that Your Spirit may guide, convict, and counsel me to live my life fully surrendered to You alone. May my life bring glory to You and may my heart not wander from submission and worship to You. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.