You shall have no other gods before (or besides) me.
- Exodus 20:3
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
- Matthew 10:37-39
I’ve often coined the phrase of the bookend commandments. The bookends are the ones that we are guilty of more than the ones in between. In fact the ones in between usually stem from the bookends. And the bookend commandments stem from love of self. Jesus told us to not love anyone in our family more than we love Him, but we love ourselves so much more than our mother, father or children. I take that back, my wife has spent her entire life fulfilling the training that her father indwelt in her – take care of other people. Even when we don’t put ourselves first, we have a hard time putting God first.
David was a great king. He had many wives, but he looked upon Uriah’s wife and put himself and his interests above that of God’s interests. (2 Samuel 11)
Solomon was given great wisdom by God, but he married too many wives who worshiped too many gods and they led him astray. (1 Kings 11:1-13) You could say that Solomon was guilty of reading his own press clippings.
The preacher A.W. Tozer said, “Faith is the least self-regarding of the virtues. It’s by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never itself, faith is occupied by the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all.”
Following that line of thought, Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Paul said in Romans 14:23b, “and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Faith is not self-conscious. All of the focus is on Jesus. Everything that does not come from faith is sin. Can we draw a logical conclusion that the reason for anything not coming from faith being sin is that we have not lived by faith. We have allowed our gaze to veer from God. We have then become personally self-aware, and broken the first commandment.
Oswald Chambers said, “The Bible does not say that God punished the human race for one man’s sin, but the nature of sin, namely, my claim to be right to myself, entered into the human race through one man… The nature of sin is not immorality and wrongdoing, but the nature of self-realization which leads us to say, ‘I am my own god.’”
For those that know the Lord, He has washed us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Yet, as we work toward sanctification, often times the culprit when we stumble is putting ourselves and our own selfish interests ahead of what God had planned for us. Trust me. God’s plan is better.