I spent some serious time in the summer months refocusing and reprioritizing. My life is lived most days in the fast lane. There is always much to accomplish and many things demanding my attention. And so with all the demands on my time and energy I find it helpful to occasionally take some time to see how my soul is doing and make whatever changes are needed to get back into a healthy place where my soul can prosper once again (3 John 2).
So my question today is: Are we placing too much value on something that’s not that important? Are we bowing down and worshiping something besides God? Some examples: Ministry; Social media; Entertainment; Work; Success. Have we fallen into a new dimension of sin? Are our souls being seduced by all the pressures of the face-paced world that we live in?
Jesus asked the question: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). We can adjust the question to today’s culture: what good is it to get more followers, more Likes, more comments, more Pinterest pins, and yet forfeit our soul?
Is anything worth more than having a growing passion for our loving Heavenly Father? I don’t think so.
And neither does God, who clearly doesn’t pull any punches. With ultimate directness He says, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:3-5a)
That’s pretty straightforward.
“You shall gave no other gods before Me.”
God wants to be first in our lives. Second place is not acceptable. It’s not sinful for God to be jealous in this way because for Him, this is a holy jealousy, a righteous longing for our whole heart.
Why is it wrong to put other people or things before God? First, we need to realize that God is holy, eternal, omnipotent, and sovereign. He’s … well … God, and we most definitely are not. Because He is God, He must be first. We need to understand that we are not a body with a soul. We are a soul with a body. Our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever. Our souls were created by God to be in intimate relationship with Him. Our souls are created to know God, love Him, worship Him, and do life with Him. That’s why we must guard the affections of our soul and put Him first.
Our souls can be seduced. We can be distracted. The pollution of this world can poison the purity of God’s presence, making it harder to find Him and be in relationship with Him. That’s why so many have to search so hard for Him when in a time of need. That is why we try to meet our need for God with other things. But money, or things, or friends, or Likes, or followers, or whatever we think will make us happy never does make us happy. Our news feeds can be full, but our hearts and souls empty. Anytime we allow our souls to be consumed with anything other than God, we will never be satisfied.
So. I take time probably twice a year (summer and Christmas) to have a look at what place God has in my life. Is He still first? What is my primary focus? Is He receiving quality time every day or just the leftovers after a day when the world has been my primary focus. Or ministry has been my focus? Do I allow social media, text messages, and emails to have my instant attention even when it causes me to neglect my soul and spend less quality and focused time with the Lord? What is the condition of my soul?
We live in soul-scorching times. The mad pace of life and ministry, the number of demands on our time and energy, and the overwhelming torrent of information coming at us 24-7 have left us all ragged, wrung-out, and emptied. This isn’t the life we wanted, so we need to get off the roller coaster, right?
More next time…