Deuteronomy 5:7 (msg)
No other gods, only me.
No other gods, only me.
I’ve always imagined worshipping a false god to look exactly as it sounds; praying to or offering thanks to a god that isn’t God. And in some cases, that’s exactly what it is. But most times, it’s a lot more subtle than that. So subtle in fact, that some Christians don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing. Checkmark – guilty.
We’re capable of turning anything into a god. In fact, it’s easy; if it comes before, or takes the place of, God Himself, it’s become a god. Way too easy, isn’t it? I’ve said this before, but even good things in our lives can become a god if we’re not careful about the priority we’re giving to them. For a lot of us, it’s not the things that are morally bad in and of themselves, and often times, they even present themselves as good, healthy, or “religious” things.
For me, exercise and nutrition became a god in my life when I started to place it above everything else, including my relationship with God. I stopped doing my early morning devotionals because I wanted to get a workout in. I couldn’t focus on my prayers because I was busy counting calories in my head. My identity became tied to my body, not to my faith. Money, relationships, success, careers, families, clothes, cars, travel – they all have the potential to become a god in our lives.
Sprinkled throughout the Bible, we see God reinforcing this truth in the lives of the people He interacts with; He wants to hold the number 1 spot in our lives. In Genesis 22, God asks Abraham to offer his only son, Isaac as a sacrifice. Luckily, Abraham was willing to choose God above everything, and everyone else, and that was the sacrifice that God really desired.
In Matthew, Jesus invites a man to follow Him, and the man says, “I will follow you, but first, let me go and bury my father first (Matthew 8:21).” This was initially confusing to me, because it didn’t seem like a funeral and a burial would take that long – couldn’t this man just meet up with Jesus tomorrow? But after doing a little research, I stumbled on some information that changed the way I understood this scripture. Billy Graham wrote about this topic on his website back in 2004, where he said, “When someone in Jesus’ day said they wanted to go bury their father, it didn’t necessarily mean he was already dead. Instead they really were saying that they wanted to stay with their father until he died—something that might be years away.” In reality, this man was choosing his family relationships over his relationship with God.
Also in Matthew, Jesus has a conversation with a wealthy man who wants to know how he can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus explained that he had already checked off all “the boxes”, but that his heart was elsewhere; with his wealth. He told the man to sell all that he had and to give away all his riches. And the man left, sad and disappointed. His money had become his god.
My pastor did a message about this topic, and one of the things he specifically pointed out was that God knows what’s in our hearts, regardless of what we portray on the outside through our words or behaviors. If something holds a higher place than Him, He knows. And His desire is to help us overcome that. Not only because He wants to be seen as the only God (because He is), but also because He knows that those other “gods” aren’t satisfying us or making us happy. We touched on this in a devotional earlier this week, but it’s important to understand that when God is asking us to give up something that has a hold on us, it’s for our benefit. He’s breaking the chains that are trapping us. We’re not free to enjoy His creation when we make it a god.
My pastor also said this (paraphrasing Jesus from the story about the man and his wealth): “If I didn’t think money was your #1, I wouldn’t have asked you to give it up. But I happen to know that is it.” God knows what fills the spaces of our hearts, and He wants it to be Him. He knows what we accept, those things don’t deserve a place in our hearts because they don’t offer us love or acceptance. They don’t provide freedom. They don’t encourage us or empower us to grow. That space should be reserved for the only One who can properly fill them.
What has become a god in your life, either currently or in the past? Can you see how this person or thing is taking the place of God in your list of priorities/schedule/heart? Is there anything you need to give up in order to give God back His rightful place?
For a heart that desires to serve and worship only God.
Tips & Tools
You can store this lemon loaf in the refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you’d prefer to make less, this recipe can be cut in half, or it can be made in 2 separate pans so that one loaf can be frozen. If you choose to freeze a loaf, don’t put the glaze on the top. It can be added once it’s thawed and ready to be served.
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