We live in a land of opulence. Look around. Everyone has a cell phone, a car or two or three, houses, yards, food in abundance, leisure time to spare. Look in your closet. Count your shoes. But wealth is also relative. I’m wealthy compared to so-and-so but a pauper compared to that one. It is the same with you. And when we in the U.S.A. compare ourselves to billions of people on our earth our personal wealth becomes obvious. So why are we so discontent?
A plethora of people have written about idols of late. I will join the crowd. As painful as it is to admit, we all struggle with idols. Not the stone and wood kinds but the ones in our minds which vie for our affections, the dastardly ones in our hearts which seek to rule us. Even good things…
I’ve read all sorts of definitions of idols/idolatry. The most concise in my mind is this: An idol is anything that rules in my life—apart from God. To rule means to have authority over, to control. The government of the United States, according to the Declaration of Independence, “rules” us, but only with the consent of the governed.
Idols in our lives rule because we have consented to be ruled or governed by them. It can be good (in theory) in government, but not when it refers to idols and our consent to their rule in our personal lives.
I like to the think of idols in the motif of master and slave. If we meditated in that context about our lack of satisfaction with the Lord and Him alone, of pursuing the things of this world which will burn up in the final analysis and refuse to satisfy for more than a few minutes in the here and now, the insatiable appetite we often have for the perishing ornaments of the domain of the enemy of our souls, of being a groveling slave to trinkets, of how we malign the name of the One we profess to love when we seem to adore other things and people more than Him, when we realize we are grieving the Lord who bought us when we submit to our lusts—perhaps we would repent more quickly of our unfaithfulness to our always faithful God, the One who is faithful to reprove, faithful to convict, faithful to discipline, faithful to forgive, faithful to restore.
A great antidote to our seasons of discontent and yielding to the idols we are prone to worship is thankfulness to our Creator and the lover of our souls. Let’s try it. Make a list of all He is, all He has done for us, all He gives, all the things we would find dreadful that He does NOT give because of His patient mercies, all His promises in Scripture. I could go on. Think on these things. Spend time meditating on them. Give the Father your thanks and praise and worship. Be overwhelmed with this and not the love of the world. I have found that in the doing of these things, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
During this season of Thanksgiving, just prior to what can often be an unchecked, obsessive, and unrelenting sprint toward Christmas, let’s make an effort to slow down, spend time in the Word, spend some extended time in prayer of intentional and genuine thanksgiving to the One to whom we owe our lives, our breath, our eternal souls.
“Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.”
May Christ be put on display in our lives this season in a way we have never known before.