Monday, October 5, 2020
Devotionals for the Heart: Loving God
On Loving God—Not Money, People, Or Things
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
Have you ever been so caught up in something—a new romance, your brand-new baby, that gorgeous sports car or perfect job you just know will change your life—that everything else fades into the background?
I’ve been there.
The summer I was 17, all I could talk or think about was my then-boyfriend. No one else mattered. I woke up wanting to spend the day with him, and he was my last thought at night when I fell asleep. I’d practice writing my name paired with his and imagined the kids we’d have one day when we were grown up and settled down. I’m sure my family was overjoyed when we finally broke up and my obsession waned.
My idolatry wasn’t just a thing of my youth. When I graduated from college, I obsessed over the job I wanted, stopping at nothing until I got it—certain it was the answer to all my wants and needs. I’d go in early and stay late, think about it all the time.
Fast forward another eight or so years when my son was born, and it was the same thing. After a couple of years struggling with infertility, my answered prayer had finally arrived. My sweet son became the sun around which everything else in my life revolved.
Today, I like to think I’ve tamped down my obsessive inclinations (though I can get a little tunnel-visioned from time to time!). I’ve realized a life well lived, one filled with joy and peace and true happiness, is one of balance and harmony, where I put God first, others second, and myself last. I’ve also realized my tendency to obsess over new things and wants is not only rooted in fear and out of a desire for security, but also a form of something far worse: idolatry.
If “idolatry” sounds extreme, sadly, it isn’t. See, God calls us to love Him with the entirety of our heart, soul, and mind as His greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). He also put that first on the Ten Commandments He gave His people Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 20:3).
In his letter to the early church in Corinth, the apostle Paul urges us to “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14), for it is the path to destruction. Echoing Jesus’s warning that we cannot serve two masters, Paul elaborates, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
That means not putting world morals, people, or desires above or on the same level as God. It means staying as far away from these things or ideals as possible so we are not tempted to fall into their trap.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shows us exactly what to do when we are tempted by things other than God: Counter it with Scripture and personal resistance.
In the wilderness after His baptism, Jesus was tempted multiple times by the devil.
At one point, the evil one brought him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, telling Jesus, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10 NIV).
Remember: Only God can come first. Only God can provide what we need.
Nothing—truly, nothing—else matters.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.
She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.