EXODUS 20:22-24: “Then the Lord told Moses, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. Do not make gods of silver to rival me; do not make gods of gold for yourselves. “Make an earthen altar for me, and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your flocks and herds. I will come to you and bless you in every place where I cause my name to be remembered.” CSB
OBSERVATION: What is the foundational sin that opens the door to all other sin? It is interesting to observe that when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, the very first commandment, and God’s closing instructions, focused on the very same sin – idolatry.
When we think of idolatry our minds naturally bring us to the worship of pagan idols and figures. We think of idols from other countries that decorate temples, homes, and places of business. As Christians this seems very foreign to us. Surely we are not idolaters. We don’t have idols in our homes and in our churches. Or do we?
What is idolatry anyway? Is it simply the creation of a figurine that one worships, or is it something much more? The very first commandment that was given is,
- “Do not have other gods besides me.” (Exodus 20:3 CSB)
An idol is anything that comes between us and God. In God’s closing instructions He warned the Israelites – “Do not make gods of silver to rival me; do not make gods of gold for yourselves.” This speaks volumes to our consumer culture. In many Christian circles one’s wealth has become a badge of honor for one’s faith. When we begin to put wealth and position before God we are worshipping idols of silver and gold.
This does not mean that to be poor is the answer. It is not about money and position in this life. It is all about the position of our heart before God. When we begin to give our hearts to serving “things” rather than God, we are moving towards idolatry. When we find ourselves discontent with the things we have and always wanting more, we are moving towards idolatry. When our time is consumed with the cares of this life, rather than the pursuit of God, we are moving towards idolatry.
It is easy to build an idol. It is also easy to justify our idols. Yet, if we are honest we realize that this is the first step to a litany of problems in life. When God is not the center of all things, we begin to justify anything. I have found in my life that when the Lord is not the center my natural inclination is to become more tolerant of sin. This tolerance begins to lower my defenses. And if I am not careful, it leads me to wrong actions and their consequences.
Jesus simplified this instruction when he said,
- “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:19-24 CSB)
The key is our focus. When we focus on anything above God we open ourselves up to all sorts of ills. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our treasure must be Jesus Christ. He must be our great reward. We must seek Him and His Kingdom above all things. We are no different than the Israelites. We are always one step away from idolatry. This is why we need to examine our treasure each and every day. We must daily take up our cross and follow Him!
Lord, help me to honestly examine my heart today. If I have made anything an idol in my life, let me lay it down at the foot of Your Cross. Help my eye to be filled with light, my heart to be single in its focus, and my treasure to always be found in You.
In Jesus Name!