If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
These kinds of verses can seem so extreme to us, but don’t they just show how seriously God takes such a thing? The point, really, is that God is to be our first priority, and our allegiance is to Him above all others, even those closest to us, the ones we love most in our lives. Our loyalty is to God as we hold Him in that high place as our one and only God, and no one else should usurp Him. Jesus talked about the same thing when He said those who did not hate father and mother could not be His disciple. It is to be the kind of allegiance to God where He comes first no matter what and where nothing comes between that relationship.
It was for Israel a command about not tolerating anyone who would seek to entice them to forsake God for some idol or to pursue after some other god. That should be unacceptable to us. But maybe for us today it looks like people who would draw us away from God for any reason and point us in a wrong direction. Maybe it’s anyone who minimizes God in our lives or seeks to replace Him with something else that takes our time, attention, and adoration. It could be anyone who pulls us to seek something other than God and His will for us. Because it wasn’t just the sin of idolatry, but damaging that exclusive relationship Israel was to have with God.
And maybe sometimes that requires us to sever relationships that are harmful to our relationship with God. A lot of times, we don’t want to hurt feelings or leave people out or, worse, have someone not like us anymore. We don’t like to resort to these kinds of extremes. We don’t want to lose those relationships, especially those close ones, because they are important, but it is about priority. God is to be first place, above all, without question, and our total devotion must be to Him.
Are we willing to do what is necessary to achieve that? Is our love for God greater than in any of our human relationships? Is our desire above all to please Him no matter what it may cost us in terms of those other close connections? Those can be difficult questions to answer. We have significant and valuable relationships with other people. But we must take our relationship with God seriously enough to guard it from anyone or anything that would draw us away from Him.