“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides me.”—Exodus 20:2-3
On the surface, this verse sounds easy enough to follow. After all, we don’t live back in the day when people worshipped other gods, like the Roman gods, the Greek gods, Molech, Ishtar…right? We live here in 21st century America. We either believe in God or we don’t. We either worship God or we don’t.
What about the god of convenience? You know, the one where we sacrifice our unborn children by the millions; the god of convenience, the one where we sacrifice our families in the name of the easy way out; the god of convenience, the one where we’d rather have the microwave meal than the homemade version. The god of convenience…the one we worship when we feel like it and how we feel like it…if it’s convenient for us.
I have been reminded of the story of Jeroboam in many different times and ways lately. Have you read about him? You can find his story in 1 Kings 11:26-14:20. The verses that stuck out to me were 1 Kings 12:28-33, “So the king sought advice. Then he made two golden calves, and he said to the people, “Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here is your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” He set up one in Bethel, and put the other in Dan. This led to sin; the people walked in procession before one of the calves all the way to Dan. Jeroboam also built shrines on the high places and set up priests from every class of people who were not Levites. Jeroboam made a festival in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the festival in Judah. He offered sacrifices on the altar; he made this offering in Bethel to sacrifice to the calves he had set up. He also stationed the priests in Bethel for the high places he had set up. He offered sacrifices on the altar he had set up in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month. He chose this month on his own. He made a festival for the Israelites, offered sacrifices on the altar, and burned incense.” Notice the people fell into sin because they chose to worship God in a way that was convenient for them, but not how and when God had told them to worship Him. Jeroboam chose to create this new human-made system of worship based on convenience and fear rather than being faithful and obedient to the Most High God. He put himself above the Creator and worshipped his own god. What are the ways we do this today?
What about the god of money? Having money is not sin; it is the worship of it that becomes the problem. When our focus is on getting money and acquiring things it takes our focus off from God and turns money into a god. The bible has many warnings about the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Matthew 6:24 is another great reminder, “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” Let’s remember to keep our lives free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5), and lay up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). In what ways have we become slaves to money?
What about the god of self? When we put our own interests above the interests of others, we worship the god of self. The “if it feels good, do it” mentality serves the god of self. The bible is clear in Philippians 2:3-4 that we are to, “do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” We are also to “take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”—Ephesians 4:22-24 Are we self-serving or God-serving?
Here in the United States of America where money is plentiful, and there is a plethora of convenience and comfort, and we live to satisfy ourselves…we need to repent and return to the One True God and to His ways. My prayer is that we would tear down these high places in our lives and serve and worship the Most High God. He has revealed Himself through His Word. Let’s dig deeply into the well and learn His truths about how to live our lives and have no other gods.
“May they know that You alone—whose name is Yahweh—are the Most High over all the earth.”—Psalm 83:18