What is an idol?
As we looked at the first of the Ten Commandments yesterday we talked about how idols can so easily take the place of God in our hearts. So we look to them for help or blessing, something we live for or follow, depend or rely on.
That means it is not necessarily easy to spot externally. Two people could support Leicester City. For one the club has become an idol for the other it is just a very happy pastime – perhaps not so happy at the moment!
How can I tell if my heart’s drawn to an idol?
So how do you tell whether an idol is getting a grip on your heart? I suggested ten questions that we can ask ourselves.
- What do you feel like you have to have to be happy?
- What do you worry about?
- What would you have a hard time giving up for a month?
- What makes you stressed out or depressed?
- Where do your feelings of self worth come from?
- Where do you escape to when you’re having a hard time in life?
- What do people tell you that you spend too much time or money on?
- What do you hide from others?
- What do you talk about too much?
- What could you not live without?
Be careful with this. If I start a new job then I may well be up in the night thinking about all I have to do for the first few weeks. Is that idolatry? No really it’s more likely because I’m a human being.
A sure fire way to tell whether something is an idol is to see what happens when it fails you. So if I fail a job interview then it is normal to be sad but if I am devastated then that may be a sign that this job has become something else in my heart. We need to be honest with ourselves but perhaps willing to ask those around us whether our response to a situation or event seems normal or super sized.
How can I obey this command?
How can I ensure that I worship the one true living God above all others?
We talked about how good it is to be convicted of sin, to realise that we are breaking this command because in the hands of the Spirit that can lead us to Christ. Ultimately though the only true way to worship God above all others is to see Him as more dependable and reliable than all others. As the only One who can truly help or bless me. As the One to live for and follow.
But how do I do that? Look at Christ. Spend time thinking how he kept this command. Nobody else in all human history has had no other gods before the Lord – except Jesus. He was tempted by Satan. ‘If you worship me I will give you all these kingdoms.’ He refused.
‘Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
That is why we should have no other gods before him. Who else is worthy of our worship? The idols I turn to each day are just too small, too pathetic to bear the worship of my soul. They are not big enough to live and sacrifice for. They will fail me, they do fail me. They will let me down and cause me to be devastated.
Jesus alone is worthy, big enough, great enough. So worship him alone.