Commandment #1 – You shall have no other gods.

The New Living Translation says “you must not have any other god but me.” Other translations say “You shall have no other gods before or besides Me,[1]” one says “No other gods, only me[2],” still another says “Do not worship any god except me.[3]”  No matter how it’s translated the bottom line is there should be only one God in your life!

It’s easy to look at the Old Testament and see what their gods were – Baal, Molech, the golden calf, wooden idols. But it is maybe a little tougher to see what we make into little “g” gods in our day.  Some things that popped into my mind as I pondered this are technology, medical interventions, media, money, nature, excess.  What came to your mind?

My sweet little girl is in her second year of confirmation so we are in the thick of memorizing the Ten Commandments and their meanings. So I’m going to share with you what Martin Luther wrote about what this first commandment means. He said, “We are to fear, love and trust God above all things.”  Like the commandment itself, it’s pretty short and concise…”above all things” leaves little room for anything else!

Luther’s Small Catechism also lists several verses that help us to understand what can be made into gods.

Philippians 3:19 …their god is their stomach…

Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall.

Proverbs 3:5 ….lean not on your own understanding…

Matthew 10:37 Anyone who loves his father or mother…

Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare…

So let’s look at the little “g” gods we’ve accumulated in our mangers by asking these questions: What do I fear? Rejection, job loss, physical pain, death?

What or who do I love more than God?  Sports, hobbies, family, food, money?

What or who do I trust when the going gets tough? Doctors, bank accounts, friends and family?

Our Lord is gracious to give us jobs, family, good health care, hobbies and all the rest. But it’s all too easy to turn them into something that is more important to us than God. So begin emptying your manger of these little “g” gods. Let go of your fears, and place the things you love and trust in their proper spot in your heart.

Holy Father, What you ask, Lord, is really so little. To put you first in our lives. Seems so easy, but is so difficult at times. Thank you for the grace you extend to us when we repent of the idols we create. Send your Holy Spirit to help us fear, love and trust in You above all else.  In the power of your Holy Name, amen.

[1] Amplified

[2] The Message

[3] Contemporary English