When I read through the Bible for the first time, I was appalled that God’s people openly worshipped idols like the golden calf. However, my disdain turned into understanding when I learned the definition of idol and uncovered my own false gods.
An idol is any person or thing regarded or worshipped with blind admiration, adoration, intense love, or extreme devotion. Studying this definition forced me to examine my life. When I asked myself what I adored and loved the most, sleep topped my list.
For me, nothing compared to changing into my pajama bottoms after a long day, curling up in bed with a good book, and not waking up until I hit the snooze button a couple of times the next morning. If my kids or husband interrupted my sleep, it had better have been for a very, very good reason! Some days (okay, many days) the first waking thought I had was, “I can’t wait to go back to sleep tonight.”
My extreme admiration for sleep had overtaken my desire to spend time with the Lord in the morning. Instead of getting up to read the Bible and pray, I’d roll over and dream.
God wasn’t first, second, or even third in my heart’s desires. Can you relate?
Everyone’s idols will differ: money, marriage, notoriety, security … whatever our idols are, they can’t remain in our heart. Why? In Psalm 24, David asks who can be near God. The answer? “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies.” (Psalm 24:4 NLT)
If we are to be in a close relationship with the Lord, we can’t have idols lingering in our heart. It may not seem like a big deal to us to desire wealth, fame, relationships, or other idols. But when these take precedence over God, it is a major issue to Him. Scripture tells us that He is jealous for our heart and will not share His glory with another. (Deuteronomy 4:24) Let’s take a look at jealousy.
Reality television has co-opted the word jealous: we see housewives jealous over handbags and luxury vehicles; chefs jealous over others’ delicious, well-executed dishes; bachelorettes jealous over fun dates other women go on. But they aren’t actually jealous; they are envious.
Envy longs for what belongs to others.
Jealousy passionately desires what rightly belongs to you.
You and I belong to God, so when anything claims our affections, time, money, thoughts, or desires more than He does, He becomes jealous. He loves us and knows nothing can fulfill us like He can and nothing is better for us than His ways. In fact, Psalm 24:5 says that when we purify our hearts of idols, we “will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God [our] savior.” (NLT) God longs to be the thing you long for the most. That makes me want to do some spring cleaning!