When we hear God say, “You will have no other gods before me,” we think of it as a hierarchy: God first, family second, others third, career fourth, and on and on the list could go. But God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many. God will not be part of any hierarchy. He wasn’t saying “before me” as in “ahead of me.” A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated “before me” is “in my presence.” God isn’t interested in being on the top of an organizational flowchart. He is the organization. He is not interested in being president of the board. He is the board.
Jesus describes it this way: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
Obviously Jesus isn’t telling us to hate other people. I mean, he tells us to love our enemies and that people will know we are his followers by our love for one another. I think that what Jesus is getting at here is that our love for God would be so great that our love for anything else looks like hate in comparison.
So what are you putting on the organizational flowchart in your life?
What is God competing with to be first place in your life?
A good way to answer this question is to ask:
- What keeps you up at night?
- What are you anxious about?
- What do you complain about?
What we complain about reveals what really matters to us. Whining shows what has power over us. Whining is the opposite of worshiping the Lord. Time and time again the Israelites are encouraged to remember God’s great works! Then, they are warned not to forget.
- Whining: ignoring who God is and forgetting what he has done for us;
- Worship: glorifying God for who he is and acknowledging what he has done for us.
We need to lead our kids in this worship. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses tells the Israelites that it was not their children who saw the signs and wonders performed in Egypt, it was not their children who crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, “but it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done” (v. 7). Moses then exhorts the nation to teach these things to their children (v. 19).
This same lesson applies to us. It’s not our children who have seen the many ways God has worked in our lives over the years. It is with our eyes that we have seen all the great things the Lord has done–so let’s celebrate those things as a family!
Exodus 34 warns the Israelites not to intermingle with the inhabitants of the promised land so they wouldn’t forget their God. In the midst of this warning, God reminds them to celebrate the festivals he established so they will remember the things the Lord had done for them. The Israelites were a party people! They had a party for everything. All of these parties or festivals were established to celebrate God’s works.
We can be party people too.
Here are a few ways to party as a family:
- Birthdays – chances are you already celebrate birthdays anyway. Instead of making that day all about them, why not take time to celebrate what God has done in the life of that person over the past year? Model this for your kids on your birthday by celebrating something God did for you this past year.
- Baptisms – Baptism is a time to celebrate. Each year on the anniversary of your baptism celebrate this as a family. Throw a re-birthday party and take time to remember with your kids why you were baptized and what Christ did in your life. This will give you an opportunity to talk to your kids about baptism. If your kids have already been baptized each year on the date of their baptism celebrate that.
- Living debt free – have you reached a major milestone like living debt free? Celebrate that accomplishment by giving glory and honor to God for his provisions. This gives you an opportunity to talk with your children about being good stewards of all God has given us.
- A new job – did you receive a new job or a promotion this year? Was there another area in the life of your family where you saw answered prayer? Celebrate that together.
What has God done in the life of your family that you can celebrate together? As a family talk about what God has done in your life. Set up times to celebrate what the Lord has done. Use these times of celebration to draw your family into worship.
Stop your whining and start worshiping!
Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor, Grace Heartland Church