Recognizing Modern Idolatry Day 8: Recapping the Idols of Money, Sex, and Success
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14, ESV)
As we launch into week two of our study on idolatry, we hope you’re beginning to see it as the problem that it truly is in our modern-day culture—even right here at home in our own hearts. False gods are not always in the shape of golden or carved images; most often they are the misuse of resources or people which, when otherwise put in their proper place, are acceptable blessings from God.
Last week we discussed three prevalent gods of our current culture: money, sex and success. These are the driving forces behind the messages we see and read every day in business, entertainment and social media. And here is the sad reality: Christians have bought into the lie that these are the answers to our heart’s deepest longings. How do we know this? By what we allow to motivate us.
Money: We work insane hours to make more of it. We invest to grow what we currently have. We cheat and lie to save ourselves money or to get more of it from others. We always want more and so we contrive ways to acquire what’s necessary to buy the things we want. We are often lacking contentment with our current financial situation, and look for ways to make ourselves happier (with money). This likely strikes a chord with you as you recognize unhealthy patterns you may have surrounding money. When we consider this, we see how we easily place higher value on growing our portfolios than growing our spiritual walk with Christ.
Sex: Sex saturates our lives in clever ways we may not easily recognize at first glance. It’s the push behind movies, shows, and clothing, to name a few. We are taught that sexual appeal is a goal we should strive for. By the way we dress, talk, and look, we often feel our goal is to lure not only our future spouse (or current spouse) but the attention of many others. Sex sells, and so any products that claim to enhance our sexual appeal are often heavily subscribed to. We are told in no uncertain terms that sex is what will satisfy us—it’s the height of personal fulfillment. And so, when we come up feeling empty and heartbroken, we are sure that we chose the wrong partner and try it again with someone new. This is a sin cycle that leaves us empty and brings so much pain. Yet when sex is put in its proper place, it’s a beautiful gift from God to enjoy in the confines of marriage between a man and his wife. But sex can never take the place of God and will always fall short of filling the longing in our souls.
Success: Everyone searches for success in something. People want a successful career, a successful marriage, a successful family, and success within the church. These are all good, but when the drive to achieve is for the purpose of self-glorification, we fall into the trap of idolatry. Oftentimes, the pursuit of success robs us of pursuing relationships with our loved ones and with Christ. Our time management often suffers when we pursue success, as we pour so much time into the pursuit that we cheat more valuable areas. Our spouse feels neglected, our kids feel neglected, our gifts are not exercised within our local church, and we lose connection with God. Success isn’t bad in itself, but the push to succeed often pushes us from things God values more.
As we move forward in our study this week, we will learn how family relationships and the self can also become gods in ways that may surprise you. As Christians, our aim should be to serve God first; He gets first place in our hearts. Anything or anyone who threatens that priority has been given power to dethrone God in our hearts. This is a dangerous position to be in as believers. As we look at our own hearts, our prayer is that this study will challenge us all to make necessary changes. May we have the self-control and the wisdom to start removing the gods we’ve allowed to infiltrate our lives and our hearts, starting today!