And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live." Luke 10:25-28
I wonder, how are you doing at keeping God first in your life?
By that I don't mean close to first or first most of the time. I mean first -- 100 percent of the time. Probably not too good, I'd guess. Not so long ago when a national magazine took a poll of the things we couldn't live without, 63 percent of the people said they needed their automobile; 54 percent said light bulbs were important; 22 percent couldn't give up their television; 13 percent valued their microwave oven, and 7.8 percent had to have their blow-dryer.
You will note that God isn't in that list. He doesn't even rank above blow-dryers.
"Of course," you can respond, "God isn't a thing."
In that you'd be right. God isn't a thing. God is, well, God is God. He should be at the top of every person's list, but He's not.
The world, the devil, our own sinful natures -- do all they can to push God to the background and something else to the front. What something else? Goodness, I don't know. I do know every time God says, "I want to be first," you can be absolutely sure that something is going to pop up to move God, ever so gently, ever so slowly, ever so unnoticeably, to the side.
Years ago I asked a man who raised sheep, "Tell me, just how do sheep get lost?"
He replied, "No sheep ever sets out to get lost; he just kind of nibbles himself lost."
That, better than anything else, describes humanity. We start out lost, and we end up nibbling ourselves further and further away from God, from forgiveness, from the Savior, and from heaven. God tells us to keep Him first, and we can't. God tells us to love Him, and we don't. He tells us to worship Him, and we won't.
No wonder God is ready to condemn us. We deserve it. I mean look back on your life. You can sometimes, not always, but sometimes plainly see where the path has taken you away from the Lord and His great grace. For you, something else, maybe something tiny or insignificant pushed God out of the number-one spot in your life, your heart, your thoughts. God was no longer first, and no matter how hard you tried -- if you tried -- you weren't able to move Him back, which is why all of us need a Savior. You see, without a Savior, God is scary.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they went and hid themselves. They hid themselves because they knew God was not going to be happy with their disobedience. God found them, punished them, and then did something most unpredictable. God promised them a Savior. Just because humanity had stopped loving Him, God saw no reason to stop loving them. It's a quality He continues to practice today. In Jesus we see God's love and through Him we are given salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we ask forgiveness for not loving You with our whole heart. We pray that our daily walk may be on Your path and always in the company of our Savior. It is in His Name we ask this. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries