The First Commandment states: “You shall have no other gods.” Martin Luther’s explanation says, “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” This means that anything we fear, love, or trust above God becomes an idol, an “other god.”
Sometimes we make idols by making ideas, relationships, or things more important than the God of grace. Identify the idols in your life and determine in what ways these words apply to your idol.
Fear God above all things
What does it mean to fear God? Fear is sometimes defined as having awe and respect for God. He is almighty and holy, meaning that he can—and should—crush us like ants. However, for the sake of Jesus, he carried out this punishment on his Son at the cross. So we respect him and are in awe of his grace to us sinners.
To understand what it means to fear God is similar to the difference between a child saying, “I’m not going to do this because my father will kill me,” or, “I’m not going to do this because it will kill my father.”
Read 1 Samuel 12:24; Matthew 10:28; and Exodus 34:6,7.
How do these passages beautifully illustrate the balance we need to strike in defining “fear of God”? Give at least one biblical example of someone who feared God.
Love God above all things
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). To love God above all else is to consider him and his Word dearer to us than anyone or anything else.
Read Genesis 22.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. That is love for God above all else. How could he do that? He trusted the promise of God completely (see Hebrews 11:17-19). Years later God would lead his only Son up the same mountain and place him on the wood of the cross for us!
What gift has God given you that would be the most difficult to sacrifice?
Trust God above all things
Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25). In other words, “Trust me!” We may think, “Of course we do!” But our hearts so easily deceive us. Would we feel more secure with $100,000 in the bank? Most would say yes. Is that because we wonder if God can take care of us even if we have nothing in the bank?
Read Matthew 6:24 and 10:37.
Think of other idols. In what way does the devil tempt us to trust them to provide so that we don’t need to rely on God as much?
Martin Luther said, “If the heart is in a right relationship with God and this commandment is kept, then all the other commandments will follow of themselves.” Identify how obedience to each commandment naturally follows if the First Commandment is kept.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 109, Number 01
Issue: January 2022