The greatest first commandment, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’’ has a lot more significance in the life of a Christian than we generally assume. There is no other commandment that holds so much depth and importance in The New Testament of the Bible.
Many of us are not aware how profound this law is and how immense a protection it can offer in our lives if we wholeheartedly adhere to it. Sadly, a violation of this commandment appears to happen every single day, knowingly or unknowingly.
When we give emphasis to anything else other than God, we invariably lose the protection from the first commandment, and remember, our destruction too will come from this very person or thing that we are preoccupied with!
The Sin of Idolatry
Anything that we put above God our father makes us guilty of the sin of Idolatry.
When Israel committed the sin of idolatry by creating a golden calf and worshipping it as their deity, they were all severely punished. It is not God who punished them, but the sin that they committed which led to their downfall. We see that God places so much importance on the first commandment.
Anything that occupies your life in depth, and makes you skip your prayer life, your ministry, and your love for God will ultimately lead you to complete destruction.
My dear brothers and sisters, falling deeply in love, aspiring for great success in your career, loving your children or your spouse unconditionally, and wanting the best for them etc. are all wonderful thoughts and deeds that deserve to be appreciated whatsoever. However, be very careful as to not put any of these things on a pedestal higher than the one that is occupied by our God. Doing so will put us in direct focus of God’s wrath.
Haven’t you seen that against one’s better judgment, there are some who fall in love with the wrong people? After exerting so much pressure on their parents and well wishers, they get married, triumphantly displaying their victory to the whole world, only to get separated at a later stage, due to irrevocable differences and adjustment issues.
Why do these things happen?
The destruction happened because God’s throne in our heart was substituted by a human passion and love interest. We were blinded by worldly love and not by the divine love offered by God.
Destruction happens from the person we replace God with!
This phenomenon holds true for our attachment to inanimate things as well, such as money, possessions, property, success, power, greed etc. to mention a few. If you compromise the teachings of God and go to any extend to amass wealth, or to feed your greedy desires, remember that the very thing that you run after will always evade
you and never give you the peace of mind and happiness that you craved for.
When God showers blessings on us, He will never add sorrow to it. However, if money is earned through wrongful means, there will always be sorrow attached to it.
Many of us give more importance to our children, than God our father. This is dangerous as you lose protection in that area.
How do we know if we are treading through the wrong path?
Let us examine the story of a High Priest; holy and kind, but nevertheless mightily rejected by God. A curse was placed on his family and his children.
During those times, High Priests were blessed with constant visions and messages from the Almighty.
The Story of Eli the High Priest
The Book of Samuel talks about Eli, a High Priest in the city of Shiloh in Israel. Though a man of power, visions from God somehow always eluded Eli.1 Samuel 3 talks about how the word of the Lord and visions were rare during those times.
Eli was unable to guide the people of Israel even though he was the High Priest. Lack of wisdom from God made him worthless in the eyes of the Israelites.
One wonders why Eli was not favoured by God…
Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for
the Lord(1 Samuel 2:12)
As it turns out, Eli’s sons were not God fearing. They
were headstrong and disobedient as they had a very
important position among the people of Israel; them being the sons of the High Priest. They disregarded the duties of the priests towards their people.
It was the practice of the priests during those times to send a servant with a three pronged fork while the meat was being boiled for sacrifice. He would plunge the fork into the pan and take for themselves whatever the fork brought up. All the Israelites who came to Shiloh and offered sacrifices to the Lord were plundered thus by the priests.
It was a time when the Levite priests were well taken care of by the Israelites as they were not given land during the time of division. The service of priesthood was given to them as a gift by God. A portion of the offerings to the Lord was to be given to the Levite priests as a perpetual gift, as commanded by the Almighty. However, the sons of Eli were greedy and gluttonous.
Well before the fat was burned for sacrifice, the priest’s servant would command, “Givethe priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”He would threaten to take it by force if it was not handed over to him before burning. These sins committed by Eli’s sons were very grave in the eyes of the Lord as they treated the offerings to the Lord with great contempt and irreverence.
God called Samuel while he was sleeping at the temple to warn Eli of the impending doom which awaited his family and sons.
Now, Eli was a very good man. Are parents answerable for the sins committed by their children?
Eli did not restrain his sons when they blasphemed and sinned against God. He had thorough knowledge about their wrongdoings, but did very little to correct them. Terrible mistake in the eyes of the Lord!
If Eli really cared, he could have very well corrected his sons. He was a man of authority, and also the father of his children; capable enough to strongly admonish and punish any Israelite, let alone his sons for their iniquities against God.
Because of his indifference towards his duty as a priest, and as a parent, Eli lost his priesthood. Prophetic duty was handed over to Samuel, and he was cast out of the temple. As prophesied, his children were killed in a battle. Eli lost the knowledge and wisdom of God, and could never again enjoy the presence of God.
Responsibility towards one’s children
Each one of us has a certain responsibility towards our family members. When Eve committed sin, God asked Adam, “where are you’’?
When Abel was killed Cain was questioned by God, “where is your brother”?
My dear parents, if you cannot bring your children up in holiness, you will be answerable to God, just like Adam and Cain were. The biggest punishment that God can thrust on you then is to move out of your life completely. God’s protection will be lost in your family.
Most parents are worried about their children only when they are grown up. Many youngsters start showing their true colours when they move out of the protective wings
of their parents. Until then, they were living within a golden mask of forced spirituality and good behavior to please their parents.
Why do children of very devout parents tread downhill and fall into sin?
To a certain extent, parents are responsible for this disgrace. We could be giving the wrong lessons to our children. We could be putting up a facade of spirituality in front of the masses, and living a life of extreme discord at home, totally ignoring the effects that it could have on our children.
The problem here is also that when children are young, parents too are young and full of vim and vigour-the ripe age to fall into sin and lose direction. As we grow old, we realize our mistakes and return back to a life of spirituality. The tables are turned at this stage, and our children are young and ready to hit the dance floor…
As parents, our duty is to mould our children into good human beings and help them embrace the strings of spirituality at a very young age. When you help them gather the seeds of divinity in their youth, you will surely reap rich rewards during your old age.
Importance of being impartial with your children
One of the greatest mistakes that parents make while bringing up children is the belief that their children will never take the wrong path or commit grave sins. We have to learn to be impartial when dealing with our children, or else we are answerable to God for idolizing them.
We see some parents yielding to all the demands made by their children without any rhyme or reason. We need to apply restraint under such circumstances. If you satisfy all their desires when they are young, when they grow up, their demands could turn unreasonable. When their needs are not met, they will try to get them fulfilled through wrong means, even by cheating their own parents and resorting to dishonest and unholy methods. This is when realizations strikes! Correcting may not be possible at this stage as they were not taught the importance of sacrifice when they were young.
Instead of satisfying all their desires, we must also teach them how to sacrifice. A parent must never justify the wrongs committed by his/her children. Children must be corrected lovingly, gently, and immediately, without being repulsive or aggressive.
Some parents believe that their children have ultimate authority over them. We are giving the wrong messages to our children. They need to be made known that there is a person of authority at home. This will train them in matters of restraint, and also in respecting authority.
Proverbs 22 asks us to train our children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Obedience to God
Obedience towards one’s parents has got great value in the eyes of the Lord.
God also places great emphasis on obedience towards the commandments given by Him to His people.
In Jeremiah 35 God admonishes the Israelites about their total disregard for His words. He points out how the descendents of Jonadab, son of Rechab obeyed his command of
not drinking wine to the very end. In contrast, God points out to the Israelites how they have disregarded His words despite His persistence.
We strive to give our children the best of all the worldly comforts. But do we seek to teach them about God in the best possible manner? Do we tell them the importance of having Jesus in their lives? The importance of bible reading and family prayer?
Everyone fails here as they themselves do not know the importance of these things. Sunday mass is just an obligation, a purely mechanical process. Children are very observant and can see through the flimsy mask that we have put on. The moment they are free, they too will remove their mask and start painting the town red.
Spiritual discipline has to be imparted at a very early age. As a parent, have you failed in doing your duty? Do not lose heart! Pray for your children; prostate before the Lord in repentance, and kneel down and ask for forgiveness. We must repent for not being role models to our children.
We must fast and engage in penances, and shed tears in the presence of the Lord for our transgressions. The Lord Almighty will then save our children and re- direct them in the right path.
Using children as an excuse for your lack of spirituality
Many of us are unknowingly surrendering our children to the devil by using them as an excuse to skirt our religious responsibilities.
We know that we can watch movies, or go shopping with our children in tow. But when it comes to spirituality, attending mass becomes cumbersome with your toddler in tow; praying the rosary takes a back seat because your child has exams; Sunday mass has to be skipped because your child gets only Sundays to relax and get up late; the excuses are countless and very well justified, you see…
When we compromise our spirituality by using our children as an excuse, we are projecting the message that this child is a block for us to come closer to God. How can a blessing become a block?
When God made Saul the king, he projected an image of humility and non worthiness. During the course of his kingship, we see Saul’s attitude changing gradually. He became proud and tries to safeguard his position and power. He started becoming jealous of David. Saul idolizes his Kingship and this spells his downfall.
My dear people of God, when you say that your child is the reason that you cannot go for mass, or attend a retreat, God can regret the blessing that he showered on you.
Instead of complaining, we should show our children that we are obedient to the command of the Lord. They must see us kneeling down and praying, so that even if they stray from the presence of God, they will eventually come back on track like the prodigal son.
If you sacrifice everything for your children, but nothing for God, you are displacing the throne of God and making your children mighty idols like the golden calf.
Like the High Priest Eli, some parents never discipline their children because they are afraid that they will lose them. Children are given the impression that they can get away with wrongdoings of all kind. We must learn to discipline our children lovingly…
We must also not resort to comparing our children with others of their age. Comparisons can bust their confidence. Nor should we exalt them to the point of developing over confidence in their abilities. Both are detrimental to their development.
Teach your children to respect every individual, irrespective of their caste, colour, race, and social status.
Idolizing children is a sin against the first commandment. Our children will become our greatest burdens, and we will shed tears of sorrow because of them. Surrender your children in the hands of the Lord and they will be proud of you when they grow up.
Children are gifts from God. Let us teach our children to love God above everything else in life.