We all do it. We struggle with idols in our lives. Subtle, seemingly innocent idols. Yet, they’re a dangerous shadow of the “real thing…”
There’s no way around it. Even the atheist cannot deny it. Each of us are born with a strong desire to worship. Something. Someone. We are created to admire and respect someone greater than ourselves. We want to belong to an organization, religion, or even a cult, or a cause that’s bigger than we are.
We can see the evidence of this all around us. There are those who don’t worship God, yet they choose to worship “mother earth.” People who are filled with extreme anger and evil join a group like the ISIS terrorists to belong to something greater. A greater purpose.
We can exemplify idolatry in other ways as well…Sport’s heroes are admired for their great accomplishments. We’re filled with awe at the extraordinary abilities “American idols” possess. Financially successful men like Bill Gates are highly admired for their inventions, creativity and wealth. We even have religious heroes who are greatly admired for their sacrificial dedication, godly wisdom, and for how well they articulate God’s word.
In each of these situations, our focus is directed on someone other than God. Shouldn’t the admiration, glory and praise go to the One who blessed them with their abilities, health and each breath they breathe?
Now I want you to think about pride.
I believe each of us struggle with pride. We have the tendency to like being “looked up to” or admired by someone. However, do we realize that when we attempt to evoke others’ admiration of us, we may be encouraging idolatry in them?
Our lives should cause others to think about Jesus and His ways and not our own achievements, gifts or abilities. And we should always cringe when we sense that others are admiring how great we are. When others applaud us in any way, it is our responsibility to deflect that praise to the One who truly deserves it.
So, anytime we focus more on the created than on the Creator, we are guilty of worshipping an idol. If we seek others’ admiration to the point we cause them to respect and admire us more than their God, we are guilty of creating idolatry.
What are some ways we create idolatry in others?
When we cause another person to think that we are exceptional or flawless, we are creating a spirit of idolatry. We have met thousands of individuals in many different areas of life including those who are well respected and admired in the Christian community. But, do you know what common thread we see in everyone? It’s really quite simple…We are all born with a sin nature, and each of us struggle with this nature in some areas of our life. No matter how we may appear, we are not better than others.
Parents, we need to be careful when we publicly praise the choices and abilities of our children. But don’t misunderstand me; our children need to hear our praise and affirmation. However, if we flaunt their accomplishments and upstanding character in front of others, it can often stem from a spirit of pride. We need to be careful that we don’t appear as if we are superior to other families. This simply is not the case. Let me say it again…We are all born with a sin nature, and each of us struggle with this nature in some areas of our life. No matter how we may appear, we are not better than others. Do you get the drift yet?
Since we are involved in public ministry, we are often in front of many people. And we have experienced others holding us up on a pedestal. When this happens, it is a warning sign for us. It is our responsibility to make sure we aren’t doing something to cause a false, flawless view of ourselves. When we do things in a way that make others view us as superior, or when we expect others to bless us, we are responding out of a spirit of pride and are promoting idolatry.
Remember, as human beings we are created to respect, admire, and even worship someone who is better or greater than ourselves. But we need to be careful that our admiration isn’t misplaced and we end up worshipping something or someone other than God.
What does God mean when He says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me?” I believe God desires to receive the glory and admiration only He deserves. He commands us to worship only Him. But how many times are we guilty of focusing on the achievements, talents, wisdom, or intellect of the created rather than the Creator?
Others can appreciate our choices or attitudes, but they should be able to look beyond us and see Jesus.
The dictionary definition of idolatry is: “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”
Idolatry is a sin against God. The desire and love we have for something or someone greater than ourselves rightfully belongs to God. He alone is worthy of our worship. Period.
Pride and Idolatry. Let’s get rid of them in our lives.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)
“And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:18)
Edith MillerPosted at 23:27h, 05 December
I have had these exact ponderings for a good long while myself. Thank you for writing. Another thought on a different aspect of this very thing is that when someone does “idolize” me immediately a deep seed of loneliness is planted within my heart. Because I know I cannot have true connection with that person. A thought I don’t have well developed yet, but I have wondered if perhaps that’s why so many people in ministry, when the dust all settles, actually feel lonely? Some of my rambling undeveloped thoughts….
Cindy MullettPosted at 15:32h, 08 December
Thank you for your thoughts, Edith. You are dead on! It makes it difficult to connect with others when they place you on a pedestal. We are all people! We all deal with the same struggles, joys, and triumphs. And whenever we think, “Well, THEY would never struggle with something like that.” — we are idolizing them. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective with all of us. Well said!
LynnPosted at 14:10h, 25 September
Thanks! More needs to be said. I struggled with this form of idolatry far too long. Nowhere could I find the help I needed. I finally left my church and will always believe there was tremendous misunderstanding. If handled correctly I would not have had to leave.