Imagine if you had the unlimited resources of some celebrity or tycoon and could own anything you wanted. You could have the mansions, the cars, the jets, the yachts and all that goes with it.
That is what Solomon did. He went out and sampled everything the world has to offer. And when all was said and done, here is what he concluded: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV).
That is to say, if a man or a woman keeps God’s commandments, he or she is a whole person. God has given us his commandments for our own good to show us how to live our lives.
When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, he replied,
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31 NLT).
If you can get these two commandments down, the rest are not going to be a problem. If you love God with all of your heart, soul and mind, the first four commandments are not going to be difficult, which are: have no other God before Him, don’t have an idol, don’t take his name in vain and keep the Sabbath.
If you love your neighbor as yourself, then you will be able to fulfill the last six commandments. You won’t dishonor your parents, kill, commit adultery, steal, lie or covet what belongs to your neighbor. It comes down to loving God and loving your neighbor.
The Ten Commandments were first given to Moses on two tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. They are not in divisions of five and five; they are in divisions of four and six. The first four commandments teach us to love God. The last six commandments teach us to love others. The first four are vertical: God and us. The final six are horizontal: others and us. If I truly love God, then I will be able to obey the first four. If I truly love my neighbor, which is an outgrowth of loving God, then I will obey the last six.
The Ten Commandments are the standards that God has laid down for us. We may think that God is trying to ruin all of our fun, that he doesn’t want us to have an enjoyable life. But don’t think of his commands as bars keeping you in a prison, but as walls of protection. That is how we need to look at the commandments of God.
The first commandment is “You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:3 NLT).
We tend to think of an idol worshiper as someone lying prostrate before a carved image. And certainly someone who does that is an idol worshiper.
But here is what we need to know. Everyone has a god – not just religious people. Even the hardened atheist has a god. They may not worship the true God, but everyone worships someone or something.
Here is the big question: What or whom are you worshiping? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you think about more than anything else? What do you find yourself daydreaming about, planning for, or maybe even scheming for? What are you the most passionate about? Then that is your god.
Someone can say they worship God when, in fact, what they are really passionate about is something else. People worship a lot of things. They bow before a lot of altars.
Some people bow before the altar of materialism. They worship the god of money or possessions. Their mantra would be “Born to shop.” Of course, the great difficulty here is that once you get what you want, you soon tire of it and want more. You always want the next big thing. The Bible says, “Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20 NLT).
When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world, someone asked him how much money was enough. He replied, “Just a little bit more.” That is how it is always going to be.
Other people worship their own bodies. That is all they care about. They worship at the First Church of the Perfect Physique. They can’t get enough exercise. They never meet a mirror they don’t like. Their own body could be their god.
Some people worship pleasure. They brag about shameful things, and all they think about is life here on Earth. They might try to find fulfillment through drugs or alcohol or sex. They are always living for the moment. They are always living for pleasure. But the Bible says those who live for pleasure are dead while they are living (see 1 Timothy 5:6). It is an empty pursuit.
Others will worship people. They put people in the place of God. They will say they are fans of a certain celebrity and will literally idolize that individual. They put people up on pedestals.
So here is my question. In that final day, will your bank account be able to save you? No. Will your pleasures be able to save you? No. Will a celebrity be able to save you? No. These gods are not real. They are false gods that have been put in place of the true God.
We have to get back to what God says. These are the absolutes to live by so we can know what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is true and false, and what is up and down. We have to put God where he belongs in our lives: as Lord and God.