“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God… Exodus 20:3-6
I can honestly say that I have never “carved an image” and “bowed down or served them”, but I have had and do have idols in my life. Webster’s dictionary defines idolatry as “the worship of a physical object as a god.” In the days of the Old Testament their gods were made of stone or wood but today we need to look beyond an idol as a statue and see it is a matter of the heart. Today, our modern idols are many and varied. Although we don’t typically bow before a statue, idolatry comes in the form of pride, greed, gluttony, passions, or selfishness. These “conditions of the heart” show themselves in our obsession with self, our needs, our wants, or our desires. To find the idols in your life, consider asking yourself the questions I have been asking myself the past few days. (1) What in my life if removed today would destroy me to the point that I could not function? (2) Where do I spend my money? What material thing can I not do without? (3) When receiving difficult or joyful news, what do I do with it? Who do I want to share it with? Where do I go to celebrate or grieve?
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Idolatry has also been defined as anything more important than God. While from my mouth I can say that I love God more than anything and anyone, what do my actions say? With the recent news that our Pastor has resigned due to “moral failure”, I have been thrown into grief and confusion. This past week I have found myself in a full range of emotions as is typical when receiving devastating news. Similar to the day James died, I felt angry, hurt, betrayed but with a covering of hope and peace. I called a friend that is not in our church to “vent” and found myself crying uncontrollably saying, “I know the he is just a man, I don’t worship him, I worship Jesus, but this really hurts.” I remember having the same sort of feelings when James died. I was not angry with God but I was angry. It hurt to lose him.
In the seven years that James and I were separated I dealt with a variety of idols in my life. The main one that took awhile to identify and confess was the idol of marriage. You think, “marriage is a good thing how can that be an idol”? It was an idol for me because it was rooted in pride. One day the Lord spoke to my heart and asked me, “What if I do not restore your marriage? What if you divorce?” It was like I was just punched in the kidney. I couldn’t breathe and felt the blow of devastation. Then all of this would be for nothing! Then I would have failed! God gently whispered, “let go, this is my work.” I am grateful that God prepared me for the eventual day when James would be gone from this life. He helped me remove him as an idol along with the idolatry rooted in pride I had as a married women before He took him home. Perhaps that is how I have been able to survive these last five years single, trusting God’s will for my relationships.
So what is it for you? (1) What in your life do you hold so tightly that if it were removed today you wouldn’t survive without it? A person most likely, a pastor, a spouse, a child, a parent. Who do you love more than God? (2) Where do you spend your money? Check out your credit card or bank statements for the answer. Is it on food, a hobby, sport, or activity to keep you busy and entertained? (3) Who do you call when you are sad and “need advice”? Do you call a person or do you pray first? If that person is not available to talk do you find yourself panicked and lost until you speak to them?
In the trap of idolatry not only do we hurt the heart of God with our disobedience but we also hurt ourselves. We get ripped off on what would be best for us because we are being selfish and prideful. Like a gracious, loving, Father, God has so much for us and He wants to bless us, often times we hinder that blessing.
Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.