Yesterday we came to the conclusion that God not only desires fellowship with us (Gen.3:8 demonstrates that we were created for this very purpose), but also, He commands that we worship Him for His glory (Isaiah 43:7 for example). So the conclusion is that we have desires to worship, and we do worship…something… all the time. We either are worshiping God or selfish, prideful desires bring about worldly worship. Now, can “good” desires ever get in the way of our pleasing and glorifying God? Yes, they can! Let’s see how this plays out practically:
The two identifying marks of having an Idol of the Heart from James 4 are:
- If I desire something so strongly that I am willing to sin to obtain it.
- If I desire something so strongly that when I cannot have it, I respond sinfully.
Let’s observe how “good” desires can become Idols of the Heart and actually cause us to self-worship:
The good desire: to update the blog to inform people reading of spiritual truths. To use modern technology (the internet) to spread the wonderful gospel of God’s saving grace, and to demonstrate how that grace continues on through our becoming more like Jesus Christ. (sounds like a great desire, right?!?) Let ‘s see how it can become an idol of the heart.
I set aside time in the evening to update my blog. My intentions are to share biblical truth to edify the readers of this blog. I get comfortable on my couch with my laptop and tall mug of strong coffee. All is well. Soft music plays in the background as I tap out Truth. But soon, one of my 5 children ask me to read them a story, listen to the events of their day or something like that. I ignore their requests, or better yet, smoothly give excuses as to why this is so important that Daddy get this blog update done. They go to their bedroom. Soon loud raucous noise emits from the back of the house drowning out the soft music and causing me to lose concentration on what I’m typing. I ignore it for as long as I can, until unable to restrain myself I yell, “Knock it off in there!!!!”. Now, this of course is hypothetical. The kids immediately quiet down…I can concentrate once more. In a little while they again show up asking me to give heed to some insignificant concern of theirs. I sigh deeply, roll my eyes and spout off about the sacrifice I’m making to pay attention to them. This illustration is not far fetched is it. Have you observed the identifying characteristics of the Idol of my Heart?
The desire: To update my blog with biblical truth. A seemingly good desire.
The identifying characteristics that it has become an idol of my heart:
- I desire this time so strongly that I am willing to shout “Knock it off” to obtain it. (Unwholesome speech, which while granting me my desire, does not edify my children).
- I desire this time so strongly that when I don’t get it because my children keep pestering me, I sigh deeply, roll my eyes impatiently and chide them sinfully.
I have in effect placed myself and my desires (“good” tho they may be) on the throne of my heart’s worship. I have set aside the great commandments of loving God and loving others as myself, so that I could just love myself. In my pride I have become the focus of my worship and I exult self over God in my responses, thoughts, motives, attitudes, speech and actions.
It is important to realize that all of life is worship. Stop. Did you read that carefully? ALL OF LIFE IS WORSHIP. You are either worshiping God, pleasing Him (2 Cor. 5:9) and bring Him glory, or you have placed yourself and worldly desires on the throne of your life. You cannot not be neutral in life. I hope that this illustration has challenged you and caused you to think more specifically of Idols of the Heart that you may have.
What effect do these Idols of the Heart have in my life?