The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)
A newspaper ad left me chuckling: “Free to good home: Litter-trained kittens.” I understood the intent – whoever wanted a kitten wouldn’t have to worry about training it to use the litter box. But anyone with experience knows you can’t train a cat. A cat does what it darn well pleases.
Case in point: A number of years ago, my daughter obtained two kittens from the local humane society. To keep the felines off the countertops and tables, she kept squirt guns around the house and would shoot the cats with a jet of water when they trespassed on forbidden territory. It didn’t work. As for “litter training,” all I did with my kittens was plop them in the litter box once or twice. They instinctively knew what to do (except Rascal).
We’ve had a cat in our home for more than 25 years, and I’ve yet to “train” one in the way I wanted it to go. Rather, it seemed the cat trained me. When he wanted out, he’d go to the door and meow. When he wanted back in, he’d peer in one of the windows, and, if I didn’t come right away, tap on the glass with his claws.
Our dog, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. It takes time and patience to train a canine, but eventually you can command it to roll over, give you a paw, fetch a ball, heel, come, and stay. The dog learns who the master is – the person who takes care of its needs and is to be obeyed. You can take care of a cat’s needs all you want, but it will never accept you as “master.” Sometimes I think it’s the other way around. But a dog, once you’ve established the relationship, will be devoted, loyal, and faithful to his master, even mourning the master’s death.
When it comes to us, we humans have a problem with the word “master.” We’re like cats – we’d rather master than be mastered. We want our independence to be who we want to be and do what we want to do. We want to be masters of our own destiny.
Such a creed may be lofty, idealistic, inspirational, and motivational, but it isn’t biblical. And the Bible is our guidebook for living, our “manufacturer’s handbook.” Embedded in the pages of Scripture are ten simple rules that govern our relationships, first with God, then with others.
The very first commandment establishes the primary relationship and sets the foundation for the other nine: God tell us who He is and what He’s done for us:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
Who is God? He is LORD. The word “LORD” (all capital letters) is translated from the Hebrew word Yahweh (YHWH), which means the self-existent or Eternal One, the One who exists because of who He is. The word “Lord” (Hebrew Adonai), when used for God, means “master or owner of all things.
Each of us must find out for ourselves the identity of our master.
Look around. Read the headlines. Listen to and watch the news. It’s like the familiar adage, too many cooks spoil the soup. Too many masters spoil the world, society as a whole. No wonder we have problems with the other nine commandments: We don’t have God in His rightful place.
There can be only one master. Either it’s self or God. Which one created the universe? Which one is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-wise, eternal, faithful, good, merciful, just, and holy? Which one takes care of our needs and, hence, is to be obeyed? Which one suffered a horrific death to break the bonds of our slavery to sin and open the way to our Promised Land – Heaven? Isn’t that the Master we should heed?
How about you: Are you a cat or a dog?
“Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Dear God, when I am tempted to put myself on the throne instead of You, remind me of Who You are – Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai – and of what I am and how foolish that would be. Amen.
2nd in the 10 Commandment series
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.