“You shall have no other gods before me.”
YHWH’s words to the Israelites at the beginning of the 10 commandments. Though we are under the New Covenant and not the 10 commandments, God still deserves to be first. But is He? Do I have other gods before the true and living God? How would I know? Here are 6 questions to help you decide if you have something in the place of God.
6 Questions to Determine Who is Your God
1. Do you bow down before and pray to any statues?
Okay, this is the obvious one. If you have a statue or an icon that you bow before offering up prayers, chances are you’re an idolater.
At this point I want to quit. I’ve checked the house, don’t see any golden statues. Haven’t offered any prayers to Baal or Ahstoreth lately. Check! I’m not an idolater. But wait, maybe there doesn’t have to be an actual statue. Colossians 3:5 says covetousness is idolatry. And Philippians 3:19 talks about people whose god is their belly. Maybe we need to dig deeper. Here are 5 more questions to help us be a tad more honest about this.
2. Where do I take refuge?
This one hurts. When I’m sad, where do I go? When I’m angry what do I do? When I’m happy, how do I celebrate? This question comes from Psalm 18. God is to be my rock, my refuge, my strong and mighty tower. Do I go to Him? Or do I hit the freezer for a pint of frozen consolation? Do I spend some money on new clothes, new gadgets, new house furnishings? Or do I take refuge in a person, thinking they can fix my problems? (There is a difference between taking refuge in God by relying on God’s people and simply taking refuge in people because we’ve made them our gods.)
3. Who or what do I think has the power to bless me and provide me happiness?
This question comes from Matthew 5:3-11 and Ephesians 1:3-14. God is the fount of blessing. So what do I think is the fount of my blessing? Is money my fount of blessing? Do I think it will protect me and provide me happiness? Is my hope set in it? What about a relationship? Am I fixated and obsessed with a certain friend or relationship thinking my life would be over if that relationship ended? Do I think life would be good if I just had a new car, a new set of clothes, an iPad 2, new curtains, new carpet, a new house…? Do I think sex is going to make everything better? Or maybe just sex with someone different? To whom or what do I turn in order to find blessing and happiness?
4. Who am I trying to please or whose approval am I seeking?
Jesus said He always tried to do what was pleasing to His father (John 8:29). Ephesians 5:10 says we should try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. But, in John 12:42, many of the authorities believed in Jesus but wouldn’t confess Him because they didn’t want to be put out of the synagogue. That is, they wanted the approval of the religious leaders. The religious leaders had become their god. Who am I trying to please? Whose approval am I desperately seeking? Do I run myself into the ground so others will think I’m something special? Do I continue in something I know isn’t right because I don’t want to upset my parents, professors, preachers, or peers? Do I bite my tongue because I’m afraid if I say how I really feel or tell the truth I think someone like my spouse, my kids, my friends, my parents, my brethren won’t like me, and above all, they have to like me?
5. Who or what am I chasing?
Matthew 6:33 says I should seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first. Is that what I spend my time seeking? Or am I chasing accolades of men in sports competitions first? Am I making sure to get my retirement in line first? Am I seeking fame and influence first? Am I chasing women? Am I chasing men? Am I chasing pleasure? Am I chasing the easy life? Am I chasing money and material goods? What am I chasing?
6. What do I dream about?
What are my fantasies? What do I lie awake at night hoping will happen? What was I thinking about when I was shaken back into the moment of reality? What is so important to me that it occupies my subconscious thinking and comes out in fantasies and dreams? (Don’t be too hard on yourself with this one, the subconscious is a crazy thing. But at the same time, don’t be too permissive with yourself here either. What is occupying your mind?)
Spend some time with these questions. Don’t be afraid of the answers. We can only put the true and living God first when we’ve identified His competitors.
What gods do you think people often put before the true and living God? How do you know? To add your input, click the following link: Click Here.