Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
This is the very first of the Ten Commandments, and it seems pretty straightforward, right? In the modern world, I am not regularly pushed serve other gods like I read about happening in the Old Testament. There are no golden statues in my house, nor altars decorated with flower and candles, but is that really the only thing that this commandment is saying? How can we teach our children about the entirety of this commandment, beyond the obvious Old Testament application?
What other gods?
When God gave this commandment to Moses, it was popular to worship multiple gods, like when the Israelites made the golden calf in Exodus 32. While worshiping idols like that is clearly a piece of what is forbidden by this commandment, He was also referring to the other things in our lives that can become gods. A god is anything that is more important than God in our lives, whether it is a job, money, a house, a toy, friends, TV, or any number of things that threaten to become a higher priority than our Creator. While we may not have very many golden calves today, we certainly have things that can become idols! It is important to be aware of what our priorities are, and what they should be.
Make it stick!
How can we make this lesson stick for our children? After reading the commandment from the Bible, have your child reword the commandment into their own terms. This will help them to comprehend the wording used in the Bible and you can correct any misunderstandings they might have. Another great example of having no other gods is Daniel! Read about Daniel and the Lion’s Den and talk with your children about how Daniel was willing to die because he would not serve any other gods, and how God noticed his faithfulness by not valuing anything, from tasty food to social status, more than his relationship with and obedience to God.
At first glance, this commandment may seem like the easiest of them all, but when you evaluate your everyday life, you may quickly find it is actually one of the easiest to break. While no one’s walk is perfect, as “all have fallen short of the glory of God,” with His help we can strive every day to become more like Christ.