Often when we hear the word idol we think of statues that are worshiped by other cultures, or altars dedicated to false gods. While those things may be true, those are not the only things that can be idols.
I have been taught that an idol is anything that we put ahead of God. Something that we spend more time doing or thinking about, something we treat with more value. It could be different for everyone. For some it might be endlessly watching their favorite sport or just watching TV. Pornography. Video games, Facebook, shopping, junk food etc. Our relationships could become our idols. Maybe our relationship with a spouse or significant other, or family members. People pleasing can be a big idol in our lives.
Though some of those things are always bad, most of those things are not bad on their own. But anything we magnify ahead of God can become idols in our lives. In the 1913 version of Webster’s dictionary one of the definitions of an idol is “That on which the affections are strongly (often excessively) set; an object of passionate devotion; a person or thing greatly loved or adored.”
I believe that if we are constantly thinking (worrying) about a situation whether it may be family relationships or jobs or finances or what have you, it can be setting those things up as an idol in your life. I know there have been times, even recently, that I have done this in my own life. If we are constantly worrying about a situation are we not magnifying that problem above God? As if it’s greater than God?
When we are in that situation, where we are constantly worrying, we are in essence fearing that this problem is something that the Lord cannot possibly work out. We fear things will never change. Maybe we entertain all kinds of scenarios in our heads as to what we think will happen, or we think things we should not be thinking, instead of taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
The Word says in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
It is not that the Lord doesn’t want us to enjoy our lives, nothing could be further from the truth. John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Yes, He wants us to have abundant life but God wants to be first in our hearts and lives not just an afterthought.
Those other things that we put ahead of God and seek after are not really what our soul is desiring. The Lord made us so we would seek Him. He longs to have us fellowship with Him. Acts 17:27: “ for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.” How then could anything else take that place in our lives?
Why is it that we hold so tightly to some of those other things? For some, perhaps they don’t know the Lord or the value of a personal relationship with Him and with Jesus. Or perhaps they think there’s no rush, they want to enjoy their lives now and wait and turn to the Lord before they die (bad idea by the way). For others of us could it sometimes be fear again? Fear that if we don’t have enough wealth or power or fame or popularity or love, then maybe there’s something wrong with us and maybe we are just not good enough?
What we fail to realize is that the one thing that we are made for and the thing that would give us the most joy, putting God first, is the thing we sometimes think of last, if we think of it at all.
When we listen to the lies of the enemy, or the flesh that tell us we don’t have time to seek God, or, God doesn’t mind if I just keep Him in His little box so He doesn’t really affect my life, we are being stolen from. Robbed of a relationship with the one true God, robbed of the peace and the joy that that would bring to our lives. Robbed of the happiness we could have following the path He has for us, instead of the one we may think will bring us happiness.
Is there anything in our lives more important than that?