What God Wrote in Stone Day 2 – No Idols or Images
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6, ESV)
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
If you would have asked me as a child or a young adult if this was a commandment I kept, I would have easily said yes. When I consider this commandment, I think of how the Children of Israel made a god out of a golden calf, worshiping it while Moses was up on the mountaintop receiving the Law from God’s own hand. It was a commandment against worshipping an image or bowing down to a false idol or a substitute for God. No way had I committed sin regarding Commandment #2. Boy, was I wrong!
The heart of mankind is easy prey for idolatry. We love to love things, people included. In fact, we love to get infatuated and even obsessed with certain people, objects or positions. Both of these words are idolatry words; think of that the next time you use either of them. When I was saved at the tender age of 11, there were few things that were jockeying for my heart other than Christ. That’s not to say it hasn’t always been a struggle, because it has, but I find that as I mature and age, the pressure to re-order my heart’s desires pushes in with a vengeance.
Here is a brief synopsis of my own wrestling with idolatry. My heart wanted nothing more than Jesus when I was first saved. It was a tender time of loving Him and enjoying His Spirit within me—a new and glorious awareness. But as I grew, my friends didn’t all love Jesus the way I did, and if I were to keep them, I had to make some sacrifices. So I did. And then there was the love of fashion and travel and wanting expensive things. As a teenager, I would purchase things on layaway (a common retail practice at the time), and then try to save up enough money to get the thing I really couldn’t afford.
Then there were relationships—and my heart became infatuated with my boyfriend-turned-husband. Every waking hour was spent daydreaming of the life we would make together. Sure, I would still read and pray, but the more consuming love of my life was my husband. Oh—and kids. How I love being a mom! So I would spend my days being the best mom I could be until I fell exhausted into bed at night, giving my leftovers to God, promising to do better the next day.
Still today, these idols call for the first part of my heart. It’s not that I shouldn’t love them or serve them, but I need to hold each in proper perspective, knowing they are all gifts from God, the One who should be my first and last. He holds my every breath and knows everything about me. Somehow, even fully knowing me, He loves me more than is humanly possible. Yet still I find myself in a cycle of returning and wandering, returning and wandering.
Idolatry doesn’t often look like we might imagine it. It can sneak up in seemingly innocent ways. Scripture tells us that the heart (of humans) is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), and it easily bows to idols. When it does, God is jealous and will take action in order for us to make necessary changes. But it’s up to us to respond and obey! I challenge each of you today to take mental inventory of who or what is jockeying for the first place of your heart. If it isn’t God, you need to make some changes—starting today.