This past Sunday I made three applications with regard to how Christians can continually grow in their worship of Jesus, rather than their religious devotion to their idols. Someone caught me at the end of the service and asked if I could put that in writing. So, here you go. The following are the three ways I think we can inoculate ourselves from idolatry.
- Be thankful. Everything we have is a gift of God. Thankfulness is the disposition of our hearts that affirms this reality. If something is inherently wrong, like a sin, we cannot be thankful for it and it needs to be repented of. But, everything that is part of God’s good creation, our talents, opportunities, health, relationships, time, etc, are good things God gives us. So, simply remain in a state of mindfulness that everything you have is a gift. Be thankful. You cannot worship what you believe is a free gift of grace. You cannot become possessive if you don’t feel like you deserved something. You won’t jealously guard an item that was bestowed in mercy. Your idols are things you are currently putting in the category of: deserved, my right, absolute need, my treasure, entitled to, can’t live without. Get those things out of there! Put them in: undeserved, privilege, grace, reminds me of my absolute need for Jesus, reminds me of my ultimate treasure in Jesus. You can’t worship what you are thankful for.
- Hold it with open hands. Along with thankfulness comes a posture of openhandedness. If something is a gift, you don’t get to put a white-knuckle grip on it. It is yours to hold. That is called stewardship. But, it is not yours to hoard and cling to. Hold your brain, body, time, education, relationships, marriage, and even children with an open hand. Hold your ministry with an open hand! Along with this posture, you also need to have a willingness to give it right back to God. God gave it. He can take it away. You need to view all that God gives you with that counter-cultural, counter intuitive perspective. It is okay to be bummed if God calls you to give it up or give it back, but you should not be heart broken, angry, or self pitying. It truly is a freeing experience to hold all of life with an open hand, all the while trusting that God holds you and will never let you go. You cannot worship something you hold with open hands.
- For Jesus’s glory. Once something is seen as a gift, and stewarded but not hoarded, one can utilize that thing for Jesus. Our jobs. Our families. Our time. Our gifts. Our hobbies. Our suffering. It is all for Jesus and Jesus is working in them all. So, try and be intentional with everything. Pray that your work today would be used by God for the glory of His Son. Pray that Jesus would get fame in you as a spouse, parent, son, daughter, friend, roommate, student, employee, boss, student, athlete, artist, pastor, even in your sleeping moments. You cannot worship what you believe to be an instrument for Jesus’s glory.