What do you think? Could it be one of the 7 Deadly Sins? Those are greed, envy, wrath/anger, pride, lust, sloth, gluttony, and vanity. Yeah, those are bad and we’re all guilty of some, if not all, of them at one point or another in our lives. Actually, the greatest sin in God’s eyes kind of encompasses some of those. Or should I say that those 7 are the starters that lead to the big one…
Consider this: in Exodus 20, when God gives Moses the 10 Commandments, what are the first two?
Then God gave the people all these instructions:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
3 “You must not have any other god but me.
4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.Exodus 20:1-6 NLT
God’s Simple Instructions
These are the first rules of righteous living — or being right with God. When you look at it, it’s rather simple. However, being the selfish, sinful people that we are, we just can’t help it.
I turn 65 this week. I don’t feel 65, I feel like 39. Moreover, that gives you an idea that as a Baby Boomer, I grew up in the 60s and 70s. That was an era that told me that as a woman, I could achieve anything I wanted. “I am woman, hear me roar!” That I could have any career that I dreamed of. I could be successful and make lots of money if I put all my efforts into it.
My dad was in sales and he was a good salesman. I’d watch him at work and he’d start selling the minute a customer walked into the store. I inherited not so much his sales abilities, but an knack for marketing and promoting businesses. That’s what I do — I’m a marketing consultant. So, in my job, I try to sell people things — sometimes whether they need it or just want it.
Furthermore, that became my problem — if I wanted something, I’d buy it. If I wanted to go somewhere, I’d go. I lived with the “life’s too short” mentality. I did get to travel a lot, but something in me wanted to put down roots somewhere. It took God getting my attention with a few slaps upside the head, that I was chasing after the wrong thing. I needed to chase after HIM. I needed to seek first the Kingdom of God. (Links to my personal testimony are in the bottom of this blog.)
The Rich Man
17 As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”Mark 10:17-27 NLT
The Attitude of our Hearts
It’s not that everybody has to sell all that they own and donate it to the poor to enter the Kingdom of God. No. What Jesus is talking about here is the attitude of our hearts. Our greed and lust for the finer things in life are standing in the way of a personal relationship with Jesus and His Kingdom agenda. Jesus must either be first or nothing at all.
Putting Jesus First
Even after I was baptized 14 years ago, I still wanted to put career, money and romance before my relationship with Jesus. For instance, reading the Bible was something that I did on Sundays at church and maybe the night before or the night of my small group study. It wasn’t a priority in my life.
It took going through 2 years of unemployment to say, “OK, God, you’ve got my attention. What do you want me to do with my life?” My total submission of my life to God was what finally put me on the right path.
Jesus Tells us What’s Important in the Sermon on the Mount
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:19-33 NLT
Verse 33 in the NIV reads like this…
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Matthew 6:33 NIV (bold emphasis mine)
Other Forms of Idolatry
Unfortunately, money, wealth and fine living are not the only things that fall under the sin of idolatry. We also have the worship of celebrities. If watching a TV program is first on your agenda before reading the Bible, you’ve got the order wrong.
Then we have the worship of relics, Mary and the saints and the worship of the Catholic Church itself. Sorry, Catholics, but Mary is NOT the “Queen of Heaven”! That’s blasphemy! Jesus is the King of kings. Mary and the saints were human. They died and were buried. Sure, they are residents of Heaven, but we are only supposed to worship Jesus. No ifs, ands or buts!
When the cathedral of Notre Dame burned, the priests were overjoyed that a priceless relic was spared. They claim that they have the actual crown of thorns that Jesus wore on the cross. And every so often, they bring it out and devout parishioners line up to kiss it. That is also a sin. Too bad they don’t see it that way.
I was disgusted when I saw this.
I remember when I toured Italy in the 80s, one church had a statue of a saint — I forget which one — that had a foot almost rubbed off by all the people touching it to get a “blessing”. Really?
Read the Old Testament
After the 10 Commandments, if you read the other books of the Old Testament, God scolds the Jews over and over and over again for worshiping the pagan idols of the other nations instead of Him. Here’s Psalm 115…
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,Psalm 115:1-8 NLT
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
2 Why let the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens,
and he does as he wishes.
4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
and feet but cannot walk,
and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.
All the Old Testament prophets warned the Israelites that they would suffer the consequences if they did not stop worshiping idols. And they suffered. They didn’t get it then and people still don’t get it now.
Who do you Worship?
Do you worship God just on Sundays? Not enough. It should be every day — several times a day.
Do you put your job, family, and/or possessions before God? Wrong.
Put Jesus first and all these other things will fall into place. Yep, it’s that simple. Or is it?
Soli Deo Gloria — to God Alone be the Glory!