Making the right choices - Ten Words

Word # 2: No Idols!

Making the right choices – Ten Words

Word # 2 No idols!

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4)

The first two commands that Israel received were clearly in connection with the unique supremacy of God, when Israel was given the unquestionable command to never entertain any other deities, by participating in idolatry or placing images and idols before the true and living God. The entire Bible gives witness to this abominable question of idolatry, which is a fundamental tool of the enemy to dethrone God and dehumanise mankind.

This second Word is a strong protest against idolatry and materialism, through which we can become enslaved. The god behind money, which Jesus revealed as mammon, likes to work through material things, which we think we control but actually have the potential to control us.

In 1963 the Beatles brought out the song, “Money,” The first lines are; “The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, Give me money That’s what I want...”

What are the best things in life? Think about it … true love, friendship, humour, laughter, a family you can count on, friends who support you, memories of good time together, cosiness by a crackling fire, a good night’s sleep, a baby’s smiles, compliments, a sunny day, flowers blooming … make your own list. What’s the common factor of all these things? You cannot buy them - money is irrelevant! The best things in life … are not things! They are a. gift of God to be found in creation and loving relationships.

Coco Chanel, the legendary fashion designer, is reputed to have taken it even further, saying: “The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.”

These ‘second best things’ cost money, our attention, our desire and have the potential to become idols, because, with our material mindset, we trust in them to deliver what is really free – a gift of God. These things become idols, and we look to them to bring us what we truly desire in life – but they fail to deliver.

The writer of the psalm described the nature of idols very graphically. “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)

Idols promise much, but they are empty promises – they do not deliver.

Tim Keller says, “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. … An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

Idols are the thing(s) that distract you from the glorious, ever-living God. They are what captures your affection and passion away from Him. Idols are what consume you instead of you being consumed by God.

Here are four questions to help identify idols in your life, and to make the right choices.

1. Are you willing to compromise your beliefs or your faith for it?

2. Will you get angry or disillusioned if you cannot get it?

3. Do you value the thing above people?

4. Does it push you closer to following God or pull you further away?

The tricky thing about idols are that they are usually good things. Idolatry, though, happens when we turn a good thing into a ‘god thing’ and that’s a bad thing. Tim Keller says that idolatry is “turning a good thing in an ultimate thing.” To practice idolatry is slavery, and that is destructive.

An idol is that thing in your life that you look at and say, “If I can only obtain that, then my life will be fulfilled and I will have peace and happiness.” That is a demonic lie because the only way we can find true purpose and happiness in life is through a relationship with God. The Creator, not creation, is the only One that can fulfill our deep longings in life.

Alexis de Tocqueville once said, “The incomplete joys of this world can never satisfy the human heart.”

He is right. Only God can do that.

Take a look at our 5-part group Bible study, “The Choice.” It will help you identify the spiritual side of managing your money – God’s way. Available from the Compass Europe store.

Next week: Word # 3: “You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain."

... to be continued ...

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