It’s been a long time and the memory is nearly washed from my mind—but not quite. I can still remember an occasion when our son, Nathan, was young—about kindergarten age. It was early on a peaceful Sunday morning in Sumter, South Carolina. We were going to a men’s breakfast before church at a local restaurant named Cole’s.
Nathan was known to the men at church and the people at the restaurant as The Waffle King. He loved waffles! There was no need to go over the menu with him—everyone knew what he wanted. On this particular morning as we were headed to Cole’s, I remember doing a question-response kind of thing with him that we sometimes did.
Where are we going?
What are you going to eat there?
Do you love eating waffles?
And what do we love even more than eating waffles?
That’s right. And what is the most important thing in life?
To love God and other people!
That was the gist of it. As I said, I remember doing something like this on several occasions with him. It was one of the ways I tried to implement Deuteronomy 6:4ff and to help him understand, even at his young age, what life was meant to be about. We could layer in the details later.
That’s what God was doing at Sinai when he told His people, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” He wanted them to understand what life was meant to be about. The rest of the law would layer in the details.
And when Christ told His questioner that the greatest command was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and the second greatest was to love your neighbor as yourself—well, He was doing the same thing, wasn’t He?
Paul would speak to Timothy about a God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). That’s all I was trying to do that Sunday morning. In the context of us enjoying some good things from God (eating waffles at Cole’s, fellowship with the men of the church), I wanted Nathan to understand Who it was from, and how we said “Thank-You.”
That’s really what God was doing at Sinai. It’s an ominous scene I understand, but if Israel listened to the words of v. 2 before the command of v. 3, they were reminded of the glorious liberation God had given to them in their rescue from Egypt. And out of the context of His goodness they were being told how to say “Thank-You.”
When we begin to think and look at it that way, it’s really a game changer. Rather than viewing God’s commands as burdensome, they become ways of expressing our gratitude to Him. They become ways we celebrate His goodness in our lives.
We have no other God and we are glad!