Updated: Nov 3
By Drew Zuverink
"You shall have no other gods before me."
God wants to be our God. We read of this over and over again in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 7:23 says, "Obey me and I will be your God and you will be my people." He also wants our love. In Matthew 22:37 Jesus says that the greatest commandment of all is, "To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Put those two things together and what God wants most from us is a relationship.
In order for a human being to enjoy a relationship with God, he must become their God. That's because God is not interested in just any kind of a relationship, he's interested in a very specific one. It's very similar to how I was interested in a very specific relationship with my wife. When I first asked her out on a date I wasn't interested in anything other than a romantic relationship. If she would have asked to "just be friends" I wouldn't have accepted. It was romance or nothing. In a similar way God wants a relationship where we recognize, accept, and even enjoy his authority over us. We give him our obedience, submission, and love and in return he gives us his care, his good direction, and his love. The problem is that we don't always live up to our end of the relationship. In fact, if we are honest, we disobey and sin against God every day of our lives.
This isn't a perfect distinction, but our sins tend to fall into two different categories. Some of our sins fall under the category of personal failures. These types of sins would include things like ungodly anger, sexual immorality, lying, gossiping, and cursing. Some of our other sins would fall under the category of idolatry. These types of sins can be tricky to recognize because anything can become an idol. Whenever something becomes our greatest love and highest priority in life, it has become an idol. Things like sports, family, career, money, friends, television, social media, and good looks can all become gods that we serve.
Personal sins and failures are definitely bad and we should do all that we can to avoid them, but we should avoid sins of idolatry even more. Sins that fall under the category of personal failures have consequences. God expects us to obey his moral commands that are for our own good, and the good of others, but he understands that we are going to fall short of perfection. Thankfully he is extremely patient and he forgives us. However, sins of idolatry are completely different because they cut off our relationship with God at the source. Remember, God is interested in a relationship with us as our God, but idolatry removes God and places something else in his place.
Sadly Christians have a bad habit of focusing on certain sins while ignoring the dangers of idolatry. Probably because it's strange to tell someone that something like sports has become a sin for them. However, in scripture God seems to have more patience for personal failures than he does for idolatry. For example, God calls David a man after his own heart, not because he always acted morally, but because he didn't waver from his devotion to God. David sinned in terrible ways but God was far more patient with him than he was with Israel's other kings who led them into idolatry.
None of this means that some sins are a big deal while others are not. But if Jesus says that the greatest commandment in the world is to love God with all of our being, by making sure that nothing ever becomes an idol, then we should fight idolatry extra hard. After all, wouldn't it make sense that breaking the greatest commandment would be the greatest sin?
So who is your god?
Is God your greatest love and first priority in life? What do your actions say? Is there anything that is dangerously close to becoming your greatest priority in life? Or maybe is something already on the throne of your heart? Idolatry destroys intimacy with God, so let's encourage one another to put God where he deserves to be, which is on the throne of our hearts. We all have blind spots so let's help one another out by pointing out potential idols. Let's even build our schedules around God as if loving him was our greatest objective, because it is. After all, how am I supposed to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength when I've already given it to ____________________.