Thursday, April 16

10 Commands: First things first

“First things first” is the 3rd principle of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For Stephen Covey it represents the art of personal management. “First things first” is the ability to be effective by knowing what is most important and choosing it over other things that might distract.

In the 10 Commandments we are introduced to the “first things first” principle in Command #1. For Christians to be effective in walking with God they need to know what is most important and choose it over things which might distract.

Read: Deuteronomy 5:6-21
6 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
7 "You shall have no other gods before me.
8 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
11 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
17 "You shall not murder.
18 "You shall not commit adultery.
19 "You shall not steal.
20 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
21 "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

New International Version

God’s people are commanded to have no other god’s before their Creator and Redeemer. The idea is that they were not to have another god before the face of God. In other words, there were not to introduce other gods into their temples or into their worship and think these gods were providing any value.

Think of the context for this passage. God’s people left a land of gods and are heading into another land of gods. The Egyptians created gods for everything. Many scholars say that the 10 plagues God inflicted on Egypt for not allowing Israel to leave were directly related to their gods. The plague of frogs ….. tied to their worship of frogs.

Note that the challenge is not to replace God but to add to him! To not make first things first. To be distracted by other things!

Why did God’s people introduce other gods to their worship? There are several reasons. Consider their:
1. Desire to get ahead quicker. If they thought certain gods provided the locals with better money or water or grain or fertility they would add these gods to the temple worship.
2. Desire to avoid pain. If they thought certain gods had power to harm them they would add these gods to the temple worship.
3. Desire for pleasure. If they thought certain gods had the power to allow sexual expression they would add them to the temple worship.

It is in this context that God commands them not to put other gods before his face. He knew their desire to be like the nations around them. He knew their lust for power and pleasure at any cost. And so he reminds them of who he is, what he has done for them (v.6) and what he expects (v.7).

How ordered is your life? Do you have first things first? Does it help to remember who God is? He is the one who made you and the one who bought you from slavery.

Remember, the challenge is not to replace God but to add to him! To not make first things first. To be distracted by other things!

Do you place money, alcohol or sex before God in priority? So often we run to these things to bring comfort. Have you ever considered that that might be putting another god before the face of your Creator and Redeemer? These things might have their place and need to be managed within biblical boundaries but all of these things need to be managed in relation to God’s primary place in our lives.

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