Relief Society Lesson 14: “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me”
President Kimball’s words are in regular font. Mine (and Shakespeare’s) are in italics.‘Tis mad idolatry To make the service greater than the god.” – William Shakespeare
…As I study ancient scripture, I am more and more convinced that there is significance in the fact that the commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is the first of the Ten Commandments.
Why is this commandment the first? Is it because it’s the most difficult, the most important, the least important?
In all ages when men have fallen under the power of Satan and lost the faith, they have put in its place a hope in the “arm of flesh” and in “gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know” (Dan. 5:23)
The OT is full of stories of people worshipping idols/false gods. Often, the idea of worshipping a golden calf or giant chocolate bunny seems so ludicrous that people think the OT doesn’t apply to us today. But, if we remember that the scriptures carry messages for us in the latter-days, then, it stands to reason that God is pretty worried about us worshipping idols.
Let’s define what we mean by idolatry.
Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things…
How can we show faith is we can’t trust God to take care of our needs? Could it be an issue of pride (a form of self-idolatry) when we prioritize other things before God?
Are there other gospel principles that relate to idolatry? (careful: this could give class members an opportunity to threadjack the lesson)
Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most is his god; and if his god doesn’t also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry…
When we place our hearts and trust in anything above the Lord, we are worshiping our own false gods.
Could there be idols we worship w/o even knowing it?
To keep myself in check, I often compare myself and my worship to the Pharisees (see Matthew 12 for an example
Could focusing on the culture of the Church rather than the Gospel be a form of putting other gods before our God?
What would focusing on the culture over the doctrine look like?
I think this can happen when we focus on the appearances in Church rather than the substance of the Gospel: if I, as a Primary leader, work on my kids to memorize the words to the songs, but I don’t take the time to explain the meanings of the songs or if I, as a teacher, want to make sure the Sunday School class is comfortable and don’t push them with tough questions or try to delve deeper into the lesson, I’m putting other things ahead of the worship of God.
What are we all doing to build the kingdom of God?
Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, “Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.” (Morm. 8:39.)
As the Lord himself said in our day, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” (D&C 1:16; italics added.)
Are we, as Americans, using our resources to build the kingdom of God?
The Lord has said, “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33.) Too often, though, we want the “things” first.
Perhaps the sin is not in “things” but in our attitude toward and worship of “things.” Unless an acquisitive person can positively accumulate and hold wealth while still giving full allegiance to God and his program—unless the rich man can keep the Sabbath, keep his mind and body and spirit uncontaminated, and give unstinted service to his fellowmen through God’s appointed way—unless the affluent man has total control and can hold all his possessions in trust, subject to the call of the Lord through his authorized servants, then that man, for the good of his soul, should certainly “go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, … and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21.)
It is not enough for us to acknowledge the Lord as supreme and refrain from worshipping idols; we should love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. We should honor him and follow him into the work of eternal life. What joy he has in the righteousness of his children!
It may seem a little difficult at first, but when a person begins to catch a vision of the true work, when he begins to see something of eternity in its true perspective, the blessings begin to far outweigh the cost of leaving “the world” behind.
Artwork by Mark Kostabi