Idolatry…

“Idolatry is the universal human tendency to value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. It is an act of theft from God whereby we use some part of creation in a way that steals from honor due to God. Idolatry conflicts with our putting God alone first in our lives, in what we love and trust (see Exodus 20:3-5; Deut. 5:7-9; Romans 1:21-23). In idolatry we put something or someone, usually a gift from God, in a place of value that detracts from the first place owed to God alone, the gift Giver. That thing or person is an idol.”

This quote is from a Loyala University website and addresses something that has become increasingly obvious to me. In my own marriage and in several others that I have observed lately, there has been a tendency on the part of the wife to idolize the marriage, not necessarily the husband, but definitely the marriage- to value the ideal of the relationship so much that God is pushed from the picture.

Ken Sande, in The Peacemaker, suggests that we ask ourselves “X-ray” questions that reveal the true condition of our heart:

What am I preoccupied with? What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night?
How would I answer the question: “If only ______, then I would be happy, fulfilled, and secure”?
What do I want to preserve or to avoid at all costs?Where do I put my trust?
What do I fear?
When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?
Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?

These questions can help us discover whether or not we have placed a “gift” in the position reserved for the gift Giver. Given the crafty way in which satan substitutes counterfeits for the real thing and “baits and switches”, it probably would be wise for one to engage a round of X-ray questioning regularly.

One friend seemed taken aback when I suggested that perhaps she, like I myself, had made an idol of her marriage and her relationship with her husband. She didn’t deny it, she just hadn’t thought about it. That’s the thing about idols, too. Sometimes they are so invisible to us. But like those 3-D picture puzzles, it may take a while to see it, but once you do, then it’s hard to see anything except the image. Once our idolatrous ways are seen, we begin to realize that idolatry is an easy trap to fall into and we run the risk of living our lives replacing one deposed idol with another. No wonder God says so often that His people have idolatrous hearts! We don’t overcome our idolatrous ways, however, by scrupulously searching out one idol after another to smash. Instead we need to abandon the idol-search altogether and focus only on God. Once we do that, all the idols fall away on their own, without any effort whatsoever on our part.

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