“Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including the tribe of his inheritance--the LORD Almighty is his name.” Jeremiah 51:17-19 (NIV)
Idols present in all sorts of ways. Indeed, there is no end to the varied assortment. It is not simply some little (or large) statue sitting around (although it can be) rather it is better described as whatever is first place in our hearts. Whatever takes the top position and priority. Remember, God will not share His rightful throne of our hearts with anything or anyone. Be careful of what you love the very most.
Idolatry was the besetting sin of ancient Israel and it is the besetting sin of our day as well. We pity those in Scripture who worship a stone yet we worship a myriad of idols of our own making. We can turn anything into idols from sports to materialism to riches to perfectionism to hoarding to starvation of our bodies to gluttony to our minds to people to experiences to travel to entertainment or to whatever our leanings might be. The flesh seeks to set up altars wherever it can find space for them – even down to our favored children. We must fill our hearts with the sufficiency of Christ Jesus – He must become greater and we must become less - and all else is superfluous at best – nice but not necessary. We must place these things in their proper order within the leanings and desires of our hearts and keep them in proper perspective. Balance is key here and the man who fears God will avoid all extremes. These things are not God and they are not intended to take His rightful position. They are merely gifts from His Hand to enjoy as long as He sees fit.
All too often we take His good and perfect gifts and turn them into idolatry. He desires for us to simply live our lives with open hands – neither clinching nor grasping on to these blessings nor turning them into idols. He both gives and He takes away and His great Name is to be praised in all He allows. Scripture tells us to keep ourselves from idols and we do well to heed that exhortation.
“I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live, the towns will be laid waste and the high places demolished, so that your altars will be laid waste and devastated, your idols smashed and ruined, your incense altars broken down, and what you have made wiped out. Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 6:5-7 (NIV)
“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 (NIV)