“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Are you into idol worshiping? I bet most of us would immediately answer that question with a resounding “No”! Problem is, I am not sure we are really being honest with ourselves if our answer is “No”. Thankfully, the Lord opened my eyes to this problem years ago. And well, those of you who know me, also know that if the Lord gives me a “spanking” over something, well, you are getting one too! LOL! But seriously, I want to focus on a concept that is one of those things you can’t “un-know” once you know it. My prayer is that by the time you are done reading this, you will be glad we put some LIGHT on this subject. So hang with me and let’s start by taking a look at the definition of an “idol”.
IDOL: an image or material object used as the subject of worship; a false god; one that is adored often blindly or excessively; any being (other than the One God) to which divine honor is paid; the idea of something that one hopes to master or attain; the supreme object of our affection
Based on my study of God’s Word on the subject of idols, I think the clearest definition I’ve seen of an idol is anything that takes a higher place in your heart than God. It is anything you give greater reverence, time or attention to than Him, or put before Him. It was sobering to say the least when my eyes were first opened to this issue. However, the greater revelation for me in studying this was when I realized how quickly we turn a “good” thing into the “greatest” thing. How, often without even realizing it, we begin to worship the created instead of the Creator.
Follow me here. Some of the best things in life can become an idol when you rank them higher than God in your heart. Take a look at some of the examples below Angela Thomas-Pharr pointed out in her study, Redeemed, and see where they fall on your list of things that may be really important to you (I added a few of my own into the mix as well! ):
A Good Cause
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When I look at that list, I see a number of things that fight for first place in my heart! Ultimately, my wants, my desires, my dreams, my people … well, they are where my heart wants to place the highest value. I’m sure I am not the only one who feels this way either. But, as wonderful as it may feel to give top priority to some of the things in the list above, ultimately if God is not Lord over them, they are destined to leave us disappointed, frustrated and empty anyway.
We are so blessed in this country …. with so much to be thankful for!! In spite of all these blessings, there are also things that concern us greatly and our fear of not being able to control those things causes us to fixate on them. Unfortunately, the devil is using that against us, when he can, as he works to make these “blessings” a higher priority than the Blesser! Or, when he distracts us from trusting Christ and instead replaces that trust with a desire to control situations ourselves. The devil is cunning and knows exactly what he is doing. Don’t think for a minute that he doesn’t know what God’s Word says! And if he can’t get us to directly defy God, he looks for ways to blind us to the consequences of misplaced affections. Take a look at the following scripture:
“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.”
The devil knows that if he can distract us into believing that our hope and satisfaction is fulfilled in our wants, dreams and desires, we are lost. Why? Because we know from experience that things of this world disappoint and can only bring temporary satisfaction. They can easily fizzle out or be lost all together. God knows that He designed us with a hole only He can fill … and His Word continuously reminds us that He is the only thing that fills that void. When our relationship with Him is our first priority, His love guides our actions and decisions and ultimately leads us to be our best in every situation.
When you glance back over that list, what do you need to re-prioritize? What has your constant attention? Would you throw a total HISSY FIT if He said:
“You need to hand that over to me.”
“You need to give that up completely because it is ruling your decisions instead of me.”
“This is taking up all of your time and leaving no desire for quality time with me.”
“That job can’t define your self worth nor can your bank account give you security. Both can be lost in the blink of an eye. Then where will you be?”
“No relationship on this earth can fulfill you like I can. No one on this earth can take the place of me.”
I let the devil rule my heart and mind for years – and he did it oh so subliminally – all because I believed that if my heart and mind were focused on “good things”, then it had to be good. All the while, the limelight on God faded as my love for everything else became the object of my affection. As I look back, at times, I became the object of my affection. In a way, it was “all about me”. And the more I “worshiped” relationships and the more my pursuit of things in this world became my top priority, the more control I felt I needed. And the more I tried to control things, the more miserable I became and the less control I seemed to have. In other words, my life got worse rather than better. It was then that I realized that control is actually a myth anyway. I had subtlety been duped and was focused on the wrong things. But thank goodness, the Lord loves us enough to call us out of our ignorance and replace it with His truth. Please take another look at God’s word with me.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You should love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
So, if that is the standard – if that is our guide for earthly priorities – I knew I had some work to do. Several months later, I came across this quote:
“If anything besides God becomes the greatest love of our hearts, it has also become our idol.” Angela Thomas-Pharr
I have taken what I’ve learned, and by God’s grace through His redemptive power, I am actively working every day to change my priorities. He is teaching me to ask this question regarding everything my heart and hands touch. It’s a simple but powerful question: “Does IT glorify Me?” Fleshed out in everyday life, God’s questions to me look like this:
“Does this choice glorify Me?”
“Does that idea glorify Me?”
“Does your attitude glorify Me?”
“Does what your about to eat glorify Me?”
“Does that business idea glorify Me?”
“Do those words you are about to say glorify Me?”
You get the idea. It really isn’t all about you or me – it’s about Him. And though I can’t say that I have had a resounding YES to these questions every time, I can truthfully say that I see a YES forming at the end of those question marks much more often! And it’s not because I finally got it together. It’s because I am taking God’s Word seriously in my life and letting it change me at my core. I truly want to glorify Him. I want Him to be my first priority. Because I’m learning that when He is, it blesses not only me, but also those around me.
The only light that shines brilliantly through us is the reflection of His Light in us! So go on now …. do some soul searching regarding those “American Idols” in your life …. all of those things that steal the LIMELIGHT from the One who deserves it …The One who gives LIGHT … The One who is LIGHT. May you, Lord, be glorified, high and lifted up, and NUMBER ONE in our hearts.
Now that will keep you Shiny!