Tonight, I open my heart to you at the gentle bidding of the Holy Spirit. I lay it open before you and speak about something very intimate that you might be blessed and reproved. I want to talk to you about idols, but in particular those gifts from God that become idols, or at least have the tendency to become so. God so graciously gives to us good things from His hand…gifts that are intended to bless us that we might with thankful hearts glorify the name and majesty of the giver. So often however, in our fallen human nature, we turn those gifts into idols, and begin often subconsciously worshipping the gift rather than the giver. When these good gifts become the source of our joy, we have put a created idol in the place of everlasting, holy God. Idolatry, my friends, is a dangerous offense for it insults the very nature of God. We are forewarned of this: “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14). There is none above God and none beside Him, and it is a shuddering insult to worship the gift rather than the One who gave it. Not only is He jealous for your affections because He is the only One worthy of them, but also because He desires relationship and intimacy with you. Correct worship is a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and it must come out of love and devotion, not duty and fear. Friends I bid you now, let all the idols fall from your heart…let Him help you tear them down, and give unto God the devotion which He alone is due.
Recall what I said at the beginning of the post…that good gifts can be quickly turned into idols. How quickly Satan launches his attack to turn goodness into something as evil as idolatry…though be assured…He is not more powerful than God…Jesus will have the heart of His bride, wayward though she be. A verse that comes to mind when seeking to understand why gifts so quickly become idols is found in the book of James: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). This verse is typically interpreted as temptation being bred from sinful and wicked desires, which is I believe the clearest and primary meaning of the verse, but tonight I look at it somewhat differently. We are tempted to all sorts of sin by the wicked desires of our flesh, we can be drawn into idolatry, often unintentionally or even subconsciously, by the longings and deepest needs of our hearts…desires that in and of themselves are not evil, but because of the fragility and brokenness of our human condition can become so. Time for honesty from this sister…unashamed and unafraid because of the freedom that God has given me through the blood of His Son: From the time that I was very young, I struggled with loneliness, and a desire to be loved…I don’t even mean romantic love…just for friendship. When I was a little girl, I confess here that I cried every night for a very long time, asking Jesus to give me a friend…a friend that would not leave me…a friend that would stay. For most of those years it seemed that He chose to answer this child’s prayer with Himself…He desired His own presence to be what comforted me and filled me up. Only in recent years has he brought into my life human relationships that seem to answer those prayers. Desperate for friendship and affectionate (for whatever reason) in my younger years, and realistically my entire life… I would jump heart first into every human relationship that came, giving love and loyalty that in the end was almost never returned. Time after time relationships ended whether with family members or “friends” or mentors…or neighbors…and again I was left alone. I was alone for a very long time, left with no choice but to face the realities of human abandonment and what seemed like unmet needs at the feet of my Savior. Though I did not understand it then, God was breaking down idols…refining me…and although I did not see it, answering me. Because of the specific desires and needs that I have, I am often so happy at the arrival of the gift that I begin to create an idol in my heart. Now that I am older, just as He asked of His servant Abraham to lay Isaac on the altar, he calls me to do the same thing. He is allowing friendships and giving me good gifts, satisfied to give to His child as long as the joy brought by the gift does not become greater than the satisfaction and joy that comes from my walking with Him in worship and love. Because of my tendencies, tendencies that He has painfully yet gently brought to my awareness, I make a point of surrendering the relationships in my life and falling before Him in worship and love, assuring “there is no Isaac in your way Lord…you’re it…you are better and more precious than them all!” I know that He sees my heart, and by assuring Him or reminding Him I am not telling Him something that He does not already know…rather confessing my heart to Him for the sake of His pleasure and my devotion. I feel His smile on me every time that I share that with Him, satisfied that His little one is finding her fulfillment and promise in Him, and Him alone. My friends, He delights in you, and it is His good pleasure to lavish on you with grace and good gifts…but He is God above all and jealous for your heart, and will not tolerate the presence of idols in the way of your affections for Him. Your God demands devotion and will not compete with lesser gods. Do not be afraid of His wrath upon the idols of your heart, for He is not mocked, and will indeed tear them down until all that remains is Him. If it means stripping you of everything He will…take my word on that. He will do whatever it takes to have your love…your worship… all to Himself. You will fall at His feet alone. Take heart beloved…He only bothers with this if you are His. “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). Consider also that when we allow idols to form in our hearts not only do we dishonor God by worshipping another, for He alone is God and worthy of worship from everything that He made…but when we as His children engage in idolatry we disregard the sacrifice of Calvary for which He shed His own blood that we might have a relationship with Him and enjoy the intimacy of perfect love. Brothers and sisters, we have all committed idolatry. We have all made at some point idols of the good gifts that He has given us…but as God convicts you of this…in the middle of reproving take heart, for He is aware of your weakness and your failings and loves you in spite of them. He will work with you patiently to overcome these things that threaten to harm your relationship with Him even for a moment. He is gentle with us and He is not angry with you because of your temptation. He promises that no temptation has befallen us such as is not common to man, and He will be faithful to help you overcome it by the power of His grace (1 Corinthians 10:13). I invite you now to rise from your worship of idols, of lesser loves, and fall instead once more at the feet of the King. Surrender to Him every piece of your heart…your needs, your failings, your weakness, your fears, your desires. It may be difficult for you to tear down the idols that you have formed…Jesus will help you with that. You may have gotten scuffed up…allow Jesus to wash you and robe you with His righteousness and purity of heart, fitting you for worship. We were made for the glory of the King…we were made to be His alone. Jesus died for you that He made bring you into an intimate knowledge of and relationship with Him…embrace that now…and let all the idols fall.
And now Lord Jesus I ask you to come…I bless you for all that you are and the work of grace that you have done in my life. Thank you that you choose us and call us out…that you call us beyond worship just as created beings but as intimate lovers and children. Wash us now Jesus…for we cannot clean ourselves up…we need you for this, and every other thing. Thankyou that you lavish good things on us and rejoice over us with singing…that you quiet us with your love. We are sorry that we have dared to commit such a travesty as building idols in our hearts when you alone are God. Forgive us Father for so often worshipping the gifts rather than the giver. You alone are Holy, and worthy of our worship and steadfast love o Lord…bind us to you just as you would an ever wandering lamb. Thank you that you are patient with us and kind to us as we struggle. Look upon our needs with pity…answer the cries of your children, but may it be in such a way that we look to you as the satisfaction of all of our desires. We need your help Lord…look now upon your worshippers with grace, and purify our hearts as we look to you to meet our needs and fill our cups. Our eyes are on you…our God and our King. Bless these children of yours as they read this…I trust you now Lord to honor your Word…for you promise that it will not return to you void. For your glory’s sake I ask of all of this that your name might be lifted up in every heart…above all the earth. In Jesus name I ask…Amen.
With great love, your sister and fellow worshipper,