I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed and so it won’t surprise anyone to know that I just figured out that the First Commandment of the Big Ten is First for a reason. If you obey the first commandment, then everything else in life works. If you break the first commandment, keeping the other nine won’t help much.
Soren Kierkegaard taught that every person seeks a way to justify their existence. What they choose to define them will be what they worship. If it is not God, your life won’t work they way God created it to.
Tim Keller in the chapter ten notes section on page 275 of his best selling book The Reason for God provides a list of God-substitutes and their impact on a life. A God-substitute is something or someone a person would use to center their life around to worship and be defined by other than God.
Here’s the list:
· If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.
· If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.
· If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.
· If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.
· If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.
· If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore be a useless friend.
· If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.
· If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards, your guilt will be utterly devastating.
So, how can we keep the First Commandment? Love Jesus with all you are. Keep Him first in all you do. Obey Him no matter what because you love Him. Remember, you love Him because He first loved you – don’t get arrogant. Be defined by His love for you, His grace and the cost He paid for you and nothing else.