Have you ever been arrested?
Not in the handcuffs and police car sense, but rather the “I stopped cold in my tracks when God called me to the carpet about something personal” sense.
Recently I found myself in one of these arrested developments, the Lord very quietly but without shadow or question, convicting my heart, “That my dear child, has become an idol.”
At first I couldn’t believe it. That was my gifting: the thing I was really good at; the service I could offer to others to make myself useful or needed; the way I could serve the Lord in this season of life; the way I could leave a mark in His kingdom! An idol?
Yes. Yes, that.
And then I knew it was true. The very gift God had given had become a god to me. Somewhere in my zealous pursuit of obedience to the Lord, my heart shifted from working out my salvation, to working for it. From obeying and serving because of His great love, to somehow bettering myself in the eyes of…I’m still not sure. But by placing my value in the outcome of my spiritual work, and therefore seeking it above all, I pushed God out of first place in my heart, and I hadn’t even noticed.
As Christians, we know what God’s Word says about idol worship. The Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 declare it beyond question: “You shall have no other gods before me.” No room for doubt. But I do think in our culture it’s easy to assume we would never worship something other than God, because we don’t build statues or golden images. And maybe that’s where we’ve let Satan get a foothold.
Jesus reiterated this in the New Testament when responding to Satan’s temptation to worship him. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8)
But unlike Jesus, we are not always looking for a prowler. We can become a little lazy and our motivations for our work slide toward pride, or self-confidence, or even the other direction, pity or self-loathing for not having or being good enough – both ends of the spectrum can lead to idol worship if we aren’t careful to feed our souls constant truth and return to the foot of the cross regularly to remember who we are and WHOSE we are.
Anything that shifts our hearts from the single focused worship of God on High - in response to His goodness, for His glory - can lead us to a false altar.
And Satan would love nothing more than for us to casually turn our gaze and find ourselves at the altar of self, or pride, or pursuit of perfection in our own strength.
But we don’t have to.
God gives His grace and mercy at the moment of salvation, but also for each day. We need to remember it and live in it by practicing. To most of us, these are not new thoughts, but we might just need a reminder to stop moving long enough to actually do them well.
CONFESS: Ask the Lord daily to show you, as He did me, where your heart has wandered, and to bring you back into right fellowship with Him.
ACCOUNTABILITY: Pray about finding a friend or trusted person to check in on you about certain areas you struggle with. If it’s hard, fight harder, and don’t try to do it alone.
RAISE A HALLELUJIAH: Worship God. Think about His character, read His Word, use the Psalms to point you to His magnificence, and praise Him!
ENGAGE: There is a spiritual war going on around you. It’s invisible to the physical eye, but ask the Lord where your defenses are low, and use scripture to fortify against the enemy’s attack.
The Lord loves you. And He is a jealous God, rightly yearning for the affections of His people.
We cannot stay the course in our own strength, but in His love, He will help turn us back, and walk with us as we grow in our affections for Him only – no other.
“There is none like you among the gods,
O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you,
O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.”
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