It’s easy to get comfortable and think idol worship isn’t an issue for me.
I don’t have any gold statues I’m tempted to bow down to.
I don’t tend to hold on to ‘stuff’, and I’d like to think I’m easily contented when it comes to earthly possessions.
I’m even pretty quickly convicted of how I spend my time (not that I always make the best choices, but this is an area that I’m well aware of my tendency to be led astray)
If I’m honest with myself, however, I’ve got idols. I imagine you do too.
Timothy Keller says an idol is ‘anything more important than God…’
Whew, I’m good…you? Nothing is more important than God!!
But wait…he goes on to say, ‘anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give you’.
A common theme in my reading and study lately has been the jealousy of God. Lest we picture God as a paranoid boyfriend or girlfriend, let’s quickly remind ourselves of what it means for the Lord to be jealous.
In truth, it’s a beautiful thing. The God of the universe has said He will not share His glory with any other thing or person. Rightly so!!
I think there are two things that result from His jealousy, and we would do well to be mindful of both.
First, when He demands our respect and reverence, He receives what He is due.
He’s not requiring anything of us that He is not entirely worthy of. Foremost among the reasons we should consider His jealousy is quite simply this …
He deserves every ounce of honor and glory we could ever give anything or anyone.
If that were the only reason for God’s jealousy, it would be enough. But there is a second reason that just baffles and humbles and amazes me every time I consider it.
He loves us.
In His wisdom He knows that nothing we could ever desire or pursue would satisfy us. He knows our tendency to chase novelty, success, fame, respect, love, affection, pleasure, distraction, security, power, knowledge, relationships… I could continue but you get the gist.
Even as I type, I’m reminded in a fresh way of John Piper’s words … ‘God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him’
He knows it, and He’s jealous for all of me.
When I know it (really know it, like in my bones know it)…
I find rest from my toiling.
I find freedom from my chains of every substitute savior.
I find satisfaction in the only one who was ever meant to satisfy.
Because my purpose here on earth is to bring glory to the Father, and when I’m walking in that purpose…
I’m fully satisfied, no idols needed.
In her study, ‘Becoming a Woman Whose God is Enough’, Cynthia Heald points us to the story of the rich young man in Mark 10.
There was much about this man that was commendable. He kept the commandments, he trusted Jesus, he inquired sincerely what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus expressed His love for the man by bringing to his attention the one thing that he lacked. He was instructed to sell everything and give to the poor, then to follow Jesus.
I’ve heard this story many times. I guess I’ve never given it much thought other than to be content with less. But I recently read it with fresh eyes. Both the study by Cynthia Heald and my study Bible make a point to note that this was not likely a command from Jesus for all Christians to sell our possessions or take a vow of poverty. Heald quotes Warren Weirsbe who explains it so well…
Nowhere in the Bible are we taught that a sinner is saved by selling his goods and giving the money away…Jesus knew that this man was covetous; he loved material wealth. By asking him to sell his goods, Jesus was forcing him to examine his own heart and determine his priorities. With all of his commendable qualities, the young man did not truly love God with all his heart. Possessions were his god.
Even reading this, it’s tempting for me to breathe easy. Possessions aren’t my god. In fact, it’s pretty easy for me to turn loose of stuff.
It doesn’t take much introspection to determine what my idols are, though.
I don’t have to plaster images of my idols on my walls for them to be an obstacle to my single-mindedness towards God.
No golden statue is necessary for my heart to be prone to wander and settle for lesser things.
Oh that we would be diligent to remove any obstacles that keep us from giving our whole selves to the Lord. That we would be ready when the Spirit shows us our ‘one thing we lack’…to relinquish it.
God is worthy of our everything.
And He loves us enough to require it!