walk in the word
You shall have no other gods before me. —Exodus 20:3
We were made to worship. On every page of the Bible is the idea of worshiping God. And the essence of worship can be found in the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” This actually means “no other gods before, after, or alongside Me.” There is only room for one true God, Maker of heaven and earth. Anything or anyone else claiming the title god is a fake.
When we give our highest attention or allegiance to anything or anyone other than God, we are worshiping what is false. The first commandment is first because our response and respect for God are foundational to everything else. When God is truly the only one we worship, every other part of life can take its rightful place.
The word worship in the Old Testament literally means to bow before. It’s the idea of actually pressing your forehead right to the ground. The term expresses extreme humility and recognition of the infinite superiority of the one who is worshiped. In the New Testament there are two words in Greek: one of them (proskuneo) means to kiss toward, or to kiss the hand, conveying the idea of adoration. The other word (latreuo) means to give or to pay homage. It also means to ascribe worth or value. All these aspects of worship only fit as descriptions of how we as creatures should respond to our Creator.
Hearing this, people ask, “Who is this God exactly? And what kind of God needs and wants to be worshiped as the only God? It sounds as though He might be very proud—even arrogant and self-absorbed. Or maybe all this desire for praise reveals God as insecure. Why would He need affirmation from us if He’s God?”
If you find yourself thinking along those lines, realize those are kindergarten thoughts about God. It’s time to grow up into Him. What you’re confusing is this: God is not a human being and He doesn’t function like one. We will not understand Him by extending human behavior and attaching it to Him.
We think it’s arrogant for one human being to want the adulation of another because we recognize that most people are not qualitatively very different from one another. But God is not some exalted human being at the top of the mankind pyramid—He’s in an entirely different category, where He is the only member. He is ineffable glory and dwells in unapproachable light. He says He’s not like us at all—“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
The amazing thing is not that God invites our worship, but that He accepts from us what He does not need. The more we study God’s Word, the more we begin to understand He is leading us to the attitude of worshiping Him, because in His presence is where we rightly belong. Whether we realize it or not, we need to worship—and God wants our worship because He wants what’s best for us.
Expressing gratitude and praise to the Lord should never be routine. As you prepare for your next opportunity to worship with other brothers and sisters in Christ, consider your level of anticipation. Humbly acknowledge and adore Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s what you were created to do.
How do you intentionally prepare for worship?
When you are not with others in worship, how do you maintain the attitude of seeking God first and always?
Lord, please forgive me for those times when I let other people and priorities crowd into the space where only You belong. I’m ashamed at how easily and how often I let this happen. Thank You for Your patience in drawing my attention back to You. I don’t want to have any other gods before You. I don’t want to have any other gods period! Help me each day to make good on that desire by deliberately seeking You first and always. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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