Exodus 20:3 - Who or What Are Your God's?

Exo.20:3; Who or What Are Your God's?

Exo 20:3 (KJV) Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is not merely a collection of
prohibitions and mandates. It also constitutes a theological expression of
the nature of God Himself. Note what each of the commandments
declares about the character of God.... The basis for the covenant was
the Lord's act of redemption. He had taken the initiative, delivered
Israel, and summoned them to a relationship with Himself. Obedience to
the Law was not to be the means to a relationship with God, but was
the required response to that relationship. Man did not climb up to
heaven, but Jesus came down to earth to die (John 3:13). Man can only
respond to God's covenant love. Salvation, even in the days of the Law,
is always by God's grace through faith. It is never by human works
in any age (cf. Eph. 2:8-10).... The Mosaic Law as a whole, and
also these commandments, dealt with Israel's responsibilities to God
Himself (vv. 3-11) and to one another (vv. 12-17). [Believer's SB]

The first commandment is somewhat surprising.  We would think
that it would be, "Thou shalt believe in a God," a law against
atheism.  There is no such law.  God took care of that in our creation.
We do not teach a baby to hunger or to thirst, nature does that.
However, we must train our children to satisfy their hungers and thirsts
with the right things.
Man instinctively believes and worships.  Nowhere does the Bible
attempt to prove the existence of God.  Man is created incomplete, and
he cannot be at rest until there is a satisfaction of his deepest
hunger, the yearning of this soul.  The danger lies in that fact that
man can pervert his worship instinct and make for himself a false
St. Augustine said, "My soul is restless until it finds it can
rest in Thee, O God." No false god satisfies the longing of the soul,
but we can, and many do, squander their lives seeking satisfaction
from false objects of worship.  So the first of God's rules for life
is: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.". . . .
All men want to be happy but we make a mistake when we think
pleasure is the way to get happiness.  There is forgetfulness of life's
routines in pleasures, but they do not satisfy the soul. Pleasure is like
dope; gradually we must increase the dose with more excitement, more
thrill, more sensation, until, eventually, we find ourselves groping
among the tombstones of our dead passions. [God's Psychiatry by
Charles L. Allen, 1953, p.43-46]

This commandment prohibits every species of mental idolatry, and
all inordinate attachment to earthly and sensible things. Since God
is the fountain of happiness, and no intelligent creature can be
happy but through Him, whoever seeks happiness in the creature is
necessarily an idolater, since he puts the creature in the place of the
Creator, expecting that from the gratification of his passions, in the
use or abuse of earthly things which is to be found in God alone.
The very first commandment of the whole series is divinely
calculated to prevent man's misery and promote his happiness, by taking him
away from all false dependence and leading him to God Himself, the
fountain of all good. (Adam Clarke Commentary)

Pride makes a god of self, covetousness makes a god of money,
sensuality makes a god of the belly; whatever is esteemed or loved, feared
or served, delighted in or depended on, more than God, that
(whatever it is) we do in effect make a god of. (Matthew Henry's

This is more than just a proclamation of monotheism. It
prohibits worshiping or honoring anything before God, in thought or word
or deed, "that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col
1:18). [Wycliffe Bible Commentary]

Today we can allow many things to become gods to us. Money,
fame, work, or pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much
on them for personal identity, meaning, and security. No one sets
out with the intention of worshiping these things. But by the amount
of time we devote to them, they can grow into gods that ultimately
control our thoughts and energies. Letting God hold the central place in
our lives keeps these things from turning into gods. [Life
Application SB]

A "god" is whatever people put first in their lives... many of
us worship other gods by building our lives around something other
than the one true God.  If your greatest desire is for friendships,
popularity, or money, you are devoting yourself to something other than God.
 To put God first, 1. recognize what is taking His place in your
life; 2. renounce this "substitute god" as unworthy of such devotion;
3. ask God for forgiveness; 4.  restructure your priorities so that
love for God is the motive for everything you do, and 5. examine
yourself daily to be sure you are giving God first place.  [Life
Application SB; Deu.5:7]

God appeals to us to put Him before all else, to put Him first
in our affections and in our lives, in harmony with our Lord's
injunction in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 6:33). Mere belief alone will
not do, nor even the acknowledgement that He is the one and only
God. We owe wholehearted allegiance and devotion to Him as a personal
Being whom it is our privilege to know, to love, and trust, and with
whom we may have blessed fellowship. Dependence upon something else
than God, whether it be wealth, knowledge, position, or friends,
places us in peril. It is hard to fight against the allurements of the
world, and so easy to trust in that which is visible and temporal (see
Matt. 6:19-34; 1 John 2:15-17). In our materialistic age it is not
difficult to violate the spirit of this first commandment, by putting our
trust and confidence in some earthly convenience or comfort, and in so
doing forget the One who created the things we enjoy (see 2 Cor.
4:18). [SDA Commentary]

I have tried giving myself to other gods - the gods of education
and knowledge, success and money, accomplishment and work.  I have
given good works First Place in my affection.  I have tried to get
other people to be god for me; I have even let the church assume top
priority in my time and energy.  I have placed my neck in other worldly
nooses and yokes, but only the yoke of Christ grants me freedom.
Surrendering my will to His yoke is a constant process. As I continue to
allow the presence of God to permeate the various parts of my life, I
am understanding more clearly that anything or anyone, other than
God, to whom I turn for meaning, purpose or strength will ultimately
disappoint me or destroy me.  God affirmed the first commandment for my
benefit; He knew I would never be whole as long as I worshipped anything
or anyone besides Himself.  I have tried to fill my life with other
people, pleasure, work, and acquisition, but these things only partially
satisfy.  I am learning that the God of Abraham, Joseph, and Isaac is
indeed the Source of everything I need and that His intent is always
for good.  [Jeanie Miley; Time with God devotional SB]

Dear Child,
Of what are you proudest in your life?  What pursuits bring you
the most joy?  What things really define who you are?
Whatever these things are (your family your career, your
friendships, even your service to me), offer up thanks for them, for they are
a gift.  And then, gratefully, move them into second place.
Every good thing in your life must come second to the best thing
in your life.  First place must be reserved for knowing me.  What
you once considered profit, now consider loss compared to the joy of
knowing me.  Whatever was valuable, now consider it trash compared to
the joy of walking with me.
I am speaking here of priorities.  I am not saying you should
despise your family or your work or your ministry.  But I am saying that
knowing me must mean more to you than any of these.  For I love you with
a jealous love.  I will not share that prime place in your
affection with anything, however good.  Loving me must be the passion that
defines your life.
Should you be asked, "Who are you, and what do you do?" what
would you answer?  Would you say, "I am a mother," or "I am a computer
analyst," or "I preach the gospel of Jesus Christ"?  All of these are
second-place answers.  Instead, I would have you answer, "I am the beloved
child of the most high God, whom I delight to know." Jealously yours,
God [Postcards From Heaven by Claire Cloninger]