One of my favorite stories from my first congregation involved a lady of that parish. She was hostess to a larger family celebration. She had busied herself with food and cleaning and so on. Because of all the last-minute preparations, she felt it necessary to skip the worship service. She neglected only one thing—she didn’t anticipate her pastor’s response to her absence.
As the story was told to me, the pastor entered the home of that lady, and the first thing he did was to utter two words—a name repeated twice, exactly. As the pastor entered the house and was greeted by his hostess, he said, “Martha, Martha…” That lady had neglected the most important part of that family celebration—her Lord and His worship. His point was well taken and swiftly understood by that lady.
There are probably times when we have fallen into similar Satanic traps. It is a temptation for us to reason in our minds that once or twice won’t really hurt us. In fact, many of us (myself included) many lay claim to busyness, necessity, or maybe even simple forgetfulness when our relationship with God should always be foremost in our hearts and minds. The First Commandment says that we should have no other gods. There is no substitute. It is Satan who whispering in our ears, “Did God really mean that.”
That fact of the matter is that this is precisely what God meant when He uttered those words. God, as Creator and Preserver and Ruler of all things has the right to demands and expect perfect obedience in thought, word, and deed. Even His Son Jesus Christ was subject to Him in this regard. As a youth Jesus asked His earthly mother, “Didn’t you know I must be about My Father’s business?” (See: Luke 2: 49.)
This is another way of applying that First Commandment. That Commandment does not limit us to refraining from the worship of statues of stone or metal or wood. It goes to the heart of the matter—our sinful hearts. Whenever we discover that someone or something has become more important to us than our relationship with God we sin and are in real danger of hellfire and damnation.
Jesus, in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was betrayed by Judas, went through such temptations. He even prayed that if it were possible that the cup of His betrayal, suffering, and death might be avoided. Yet He humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death on the cross. Jesus had no other gods. He became the ultimate sacrifice for all sinners of all time, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but receive eternal life. (See John 3:16-18.)
I pray that you will choose the good portion—Jesus.
We pray: Give us an extra measure of Your Spirit that we might always choose the good portion. In Your name we pray. Amen.