Musings on Idolatry

What is an idol? Everybody has at least one, most likely, more than one. How do I discover my idols? How do you find out yours? Let me put my question differently. What is so precious to us that – if it’s taken away – life would feel empty; it would lose it’s savor, joy, and even its value.

When I recently heard a similar definition of idolatry, a number of my own (previously unnamed) idols sprang to mind: Being included, noticed, respected, admired, praised, valued. I have coveted these things, strongly enough that I’ve been willing to perform to get them. Not blatantly, of course, but with better looking, more subtle methods.

Wait. Wasn’t the serpent skilled at subtlety and innuendo? Who have I been imitating? Not my Lord, but the evil one.

Soon after this sobering awareness, the Lord made me aware that my abilities are gifts. Gifts! I didn’t give them to myself. God gave them to me. I neither own nor produce them. Those gifts. are spiritual gifts; they originate from God. I can and must not take credit for them, covet them, or showcase them. Coveting is idolatry. Performing is hypocrisy. Terrible choices.

Some significant changes in my ministry triggered my sin. For years, I had become accustomed to standing centerstage and listening to applause. In the last two years, various circumstances have put me closer to the sidelines. Then the evil one started dangling my idols before my eyes, and I started grabbing at them.

Idols blind and mislead us. Mine blinded me to the fact that what I covet has not disappeared; it’s just that I’ve assumed that those delightful things came from my accomplishments rather than as a gift from God. I am centerstage in His eyes. So are we all. But God dependably provides these essentials for which we all hunger: being valued, noticed, included, and loved. Loved enough for Him to open our eyes to our idols.

People and their praise have been my idols. I didn’t notice until my circumstances changed. God has used that change to steer me away from idolatry and into a more vivid awareness of His presence.

“Lord, remind me each time I stray into performance and away from gratitude. And please reveal to each person reading this post, the identity of their idols, a clear awareness of the presence of Your gifts, and the humility to understand with great clarity that worth and adequacy originate with You.” See (2 Corinthians 3:4-6.)

Musings on Idolatry
© Lynne Fox, 2020

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