This past Sunday, my dear Pastor gave a powerful sermon. As I listened to his words, I was sitting on the edge of my seat – absolutely sure that he had written this sermon for me alone.
“How does he always know what's I am guilty of!”
Luckily, as I have shared this response with fellow members of my congregation, I found that I am not alone. And not only am I not alone, I am surrounded by many fellow believers that know exactly how I feel. The message was on “Keeping Yourself From Idols” – that is, keeping yourself from finding your comfort and security anywhere in the world apart from Christ. He included some interesting “diagnostic questions” that I want you to answer about yourself. And do it truthfully. Don't worry, I won't share your answers with anyone. I promise.
Grab a paper and pen and write down your answers.
Do it, I say!
To help in recognizing your idols:
– What do I worry about the most?
– What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
– What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
– What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
– What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
– What do I lead with in conversations?
– Early on, what do I want to make sure people know about me?
– What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
– What is my hope for the future?
Bleh. See what I mean?
It was so easy for me to fill in each and every one of these questions. I was easily able to recognize things that I tend to put in front of the Lord.
Shall I go on?
While all of these are important, and no sin in and of themselves, the desire to seek them first – before seeking the Lord – IS a sin. And I'll be the first to admit I am guilty of making idols out of many, many things. For example, as you are all very aware, I feel comfort when my house is clean and in order. I feel secure. Happy. Content. If it isn't, I can't sleep well at night (knowing the work that lay ahead). However, on that same note, I can not say my prayers, be focusing on God's kingdom, or read my Bible and sleep just fine.
I'm embarrassed to admit that.
(Shaye hangs her head in misery).
Don't shun me, please!
Recognizing what I tend to idolize has helped me recognize the folly of it all. And I have enlisted Stuart to help hold me accountable when I begin to seek such idols before seeking the Lord. A clean house that will (literally) be dirty again in fifteen minutes should never hold precedence over the comfort and security that is found in the Lord. My good mood should not be based on the state of my kitchen counters, but by the state of my heart. As Pastor Gene pointed out, in our idols we seek “privacy, lack of stress, freedom, affirmation, love, relationships, self-discipline, certainty, standards, success, winning, and influence”. As surely as the sun raises each morning, we will not find any of these things apart from the goodness of God's grace.
And at the end of my life, I hope to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Not, “You kept a very clean home.”
Things of this world that we idolize are fleeting. They can vanish in a mere moment.
But God has, and will, reign forever.
“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my hold mountain.” Isaiah 57:13