Athlete, Pause

Read Exodus 20:1-11

It ought to give us pause when we consider that the first four commands are all about the worship of God.  Yes, the Sabbath is a day of rest for us, but it “is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (20:10).  In fact, the first three commands are also good for us, if we want to put it that way, because our hearts can only be filled by worshipping God in spirit and in truth.  But the first four commandments insist that we take our eyes off of ourselves and lift them to God.  Life may only be found when we submit ourselves to the supremacy of God in all things.

The first two commands (20:3 and 20:4-6) are closely related.  The first command forbids us from giving the affections of our hearts to false gods or anything else before God, while the second command forbids us from worshipping the true God falsely through the use of idols.  Idols are not capable of conveying God’s transcendent glory, nor are they capable of conveying his personal nature.  They cannot speak or feel.  They reduce God into manageable forms that serve human imaginations rather than God’s purposes.  In our modern society, which is largely immune from the creation of physical idols, we must guard our hearts against views of God that reduce him in service of political, moral, or social agendas.  God, of course, speaks truth into political, moral and social issues, but it is all too easy to either limit our view of God to a narrow agenda, even if the agenda is a godly one, or to distort our understanding of God to conform to moral standards or social ideas of our own invention.

Questions for Reflection and Prayer

1. The first sin was an attempt to take the place of God.  All of us are prone to putting ourselves, and “gods” that serve our purposes, before God.  So there are not two classes of Christians:  God-centered Christians and the rest of us.  That said, take some time to examine the God-centeredness of your life recently.  Use it as a time of confession, a time to rest in Christ’s righteousness and forgiveness, and a time to repent in his resurrection power and Spirit.  Are you finding your life in the worship of God?  Where in your life is God’s glory and authority not considered or not first in your mind and heart?  
How are you tempted to reduce or narrow your understanding of the character and nature of God?

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