I started reading Matthew Harrison’s Why am I Joy:fully Lutheran? this morning, and I got to page 13 (the second page of the first chapter) before I had to stop and think over the actions in my own life. This book is subtitled “Instruction, Meditation, and Prayers on Luther’s Small Catechism,” and in it, Harrison uses Martin Luther’s Small Catechism to show the power of God’s forgiveness and helps us remember that in the Catechism, we can find our joy.
The first chapter is about the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” At first glance, it seems pretty simple, right? God is the only God and therefore, we shouldn’t have any other gods. What other god could we have? Luther’s meaning makes this commandment a little harder to follow: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” Above all things.
In my life, for example, my husband and I are living very closely to pay check to pay check. We have a bit of a buffer, but that buffer is slowly diminishing (I know, who doesn’t have money problems? But bear with me and my example).
I tell myself that “God will provide,” but then I continually feel huge relief when we receive any form of support. It’s really hard to not idolize money when you aren’t sure how you’ll pay the next month’s bills. I always thought that idolizing money only happened when you had a bunch of it, but when I reflected on my life, I realized that’s not true. Without a bunch of money, I idolize it, worrying, wondering, and thinking of how to get more, how to save more, how to spend less, how I would be much happier if I had it.
While I know that God will take care of me, the thought of not affording rent and not paying off our car is scary. I don’t exactly know what would happen, because God has thus far provided, but I know that I don’t want that to happen. I make money my god when my world becomes wrapped up in worry and concern about my decreasing bank account. I make money my god when I trust the next paycheck more than I trust God to provide.
This is just one example of the idolatry in my life. Harrison points out that every sin we commit is a form of idolatry in one way or another.
What’s scary about it is that we cannot stop ourselves from this. We are sinful and unclean and nothing we do will cure that.
Thankfully, we have joy in this First Commandment. While we cannot keep it, Jesus did. He kept it perfectly for us. He kept the commandment and took our punishment for not keeping it, freeing us from sin, eternal death, and the devil.
That is worthy of all the praise.
Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to fully keep your commandments where I cannot.
Image taken from Youtube. “You’re in Idolatry and Don’t Know it.”