Staying on this topic of peacemaking, let’s talk about idols. Idols are false gods that grow deep in the shadows of our hearts. They creep up on us and become the controlling factor of our life, sometimes before we even realize they exist. Rick Stein says, “an idol is anything that we must have for our happiness or contentment apart from God.”
Idols progress very quickly. They start as good desires. Desires like a good marriage, family, acceptance, provision, a good church, security, friends. Those are all good things to desire and want in our lives. But when a desire morphs into a demand or expectation, a flag shoul deb going off in our heads. That is when it has become an idol. From demand, we then move into judgment. We judge others for not meeting these expectations we have (Matthew 7:1-2). And finally comes punishment. People didn’t meet my demands, so I judged them and now they will be punished. Women, have you ever with-held sex from your husband because he didn’t meet your demands? That is punishment that came from an idol in your heart.
So then this progression, from desire to demand to judgement to punishment, would look something like this:
This whole progression of an idol really struck a chord with me, and I’ve spent the last couple weeks praying over it and asking God to show me the idols in my life. Well folks, I think I finally found one… my marriage. A good, healthy marriage is a wonderful thing to desire. God wants that for us! But when I start to demand certain behavior from my husband, that’s where the red flags should be going off in my brain. “Warning, warning, this is becoming an idol again!” So I’ll find myself demanding behavior from him, and when he doesn’t act a certain way, I get extremely irritated at his behavior. Why? Because it’s become my idol, so his behavior is a reflection on me. So then I feel justified in judging his heart and motive behind these actions because, after all, it’s a good desire. So I find myself judging him and telling him how he should be acting or words he should have said and just tearing him down because he didn’t meet my expectations. Then comes punishment. I’ve judged his heart and tried to get him to meet my unrealistic expectations, which no one can meet, so then I punish him. I give him the silent treatment, secretly holding a grudge and refusing to talk to him about it. That seems like fair punishment, right? Or with-holding sex because I don’t feel loved. I’m justified in that, right?
Aren’t these idols the reason we have conflict with others? When people don’t meet the demands of our hearts, we get irritated with them. “Why can’t they just meet my desires? These are good desires, dang it!” It’s the reason I end up in conflict with my husband, because I made an idol in my life. It’s the reason I turn to micromanaging, because his actions would be a reflection on my idol. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3). A good way to spot your idols is to look at the conflict in your life. What is it centered around? Your family? Your church? Your government? Security? There are so many good desires to have, but that desire alone can never meet your expectations. God alone can do that, and is the only one deserving of the throne in our life!
It’s always easier to see other peoples’ idols than to be able to name our own, this is why I am sharing mine with you…to hopefully help you see the idol in your life. Watch for the flags. For the conflict. For the idols in your life that God wants to free you from.
Original image modified from here