Do you know the ten commandments? We raised a fuss when the government required that they be removed from public, from schools, from courtrooms, but if you were put on the spot can you recite them? They uphold our basic moral law: do not murder, do not steal, do not cheat on your wife, etc. They also speak to contentment: do not covet (or lust for) your neighbor’s house or wife. But have you ever stopped to consider the nature of the very first commandment?
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…”
– Ex 20.3-5
I quoted that in the King James for those of us who memorized it thus. We are not to have any other gods beside Him. The second commandment expands the principle: we should make no idols or graven images to worship. God does not want us to attempt to make a statue or likeness of Him or any other entity on which to focus our worship. Even in worship of Him. And the third commandment exemplifies our respect for Him: do not take is name in vain.
God set aside three of ten commandments, the first 30% of his instruction for how we are to live our lives, focused directly on how we remember, worship and respect Him. Theologians observe that if we love God, our hearts will focus on obeying Him while keeping the other commandments, so all of the commandments are technically focused on God. But my point here is that he gave us three commandments that directly deal with how we relate to Him. God is extremely concerned with our hearts towards Him and how we worship and respect Him.
Do you spend time with God? Does He abide in you? Do you abide in Him? Do you find joy, peace and rest in His presence? Or are you so busy trying to keep Him happy by your “ministry”, by your service, by your obedience? Those things are extremely important, but He ultimately wants to empower you to do your ministry, service and obedience by His Holy Spirit who lives in and through us.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
– John 15.4
Jesus, while He lived here on Earth, regularly went away to be alone to pray. He wanted to interact with the Father. He drew strength from spending time with Him. He loved Him. He knew what the Father’s will was, and He obeyed it perfectly by abiding in Him. Take time today to be alone with Him. Do not waste your energy trying to serve Him until you have been in His presence and found peace in His refuge. Then, through that strength, serve Him. He will bear fruit through you.
“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord…”
– Charles Spurgeon