I’m sure many of us, if not all of us have thought back to when you were a child. What mattered most to you? Even if you don’t remember when you were a child you can certainly look at a child and see what matters most to them is what they want; their desires. Whether it is a toy, sleep, food, or comfort, it is all a child thinks about. In fact, you could call it idolatry.
Idolatry is extreme admiration, love or reverence for something or someone. Of course, a child may not realize that they are idolizing a person or something like a toy, but we as Christians know the desires holding our hearts. I make this comparison because of the many hours I have spent with children, but mostly for the extreme conviction that I have in my heart over my idols. I am like a child holding on to what I think most dear in the world and I will not let go. Whether it is friendships, relationships (my singleness and family), financial stability, future plans, physical state, spiritual state (in the eyes of others as well as my own) or my own comfort, it has my focus, my heart. Are all desires sinful? No, but when it becomes the ruling thing in our hearts, it becomes an idol. What does God think about these idols?
First, God commands us to have no other gods before Him in the first commandment. So, obviously, these are sinful, because the only person who should have my worship, praise, life, and heart is God. Secondly, not only does God command it, He reveals to us how serious idols are throughout the scriptures. I have been reading through Isaiah and specifically in chapters 14-19 he describes how God was pouring His wrath on many different cities for their idolatry. God destroyed cities for this! Thirdly, He allows us to see His love for our hearts. James 4 asks us pointing questions about our desires/idols. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:1-4a) Then, it describes God’s heart in verse 5, which says, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” God is not sinful, so ultimately He is a holy jealous God who desires our whole hearts. He is not partial; He wants to claim us as a whole. A righteous, beautiful God, who loves you, desires to fellowship with you and with me!
I have found in the past few months that God takes away idols. Sometimes it hurts. I do not enjoy it, but it is for my ultimate good. In fact, God has my best at thought. He loves me and wants to give me the best. I think of the Prodigal Son, but the child illustration has been on my mind. I am like a child, carrying an old dirty rag for a toy, who is offered a priceless jewel from my loving Father, and I do not want it. Eventually, God in His kindness pulls on the rag. I scream and throw a tantrum to get back what I want, but then God puts the jewel in my hand. I sometimes may toss it aside, mad, but He picks it up and hands it to me again. Graciously He changes my heart and I realize what precious object He has given me; Himself. What has your heart?