By Haylee Williams
Our Lord gives abundantly to all of creation. Jesus himself speaks of the Father giving good gifts in Matthew 7:11 "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" This means that every day, we are all living in a world of good gifts. Many of us have homes, families, cars, and infinitely more. These are good things. They bring us joy and in many ways, help us to serve Christ.
But sometimes, we are unknowingly offering sacrifices and worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Because these gifts are good and bring us much joy, we elevate them to sit on the throne of our hearts and in so doing, sin against the Lord. We tend to let our guard down for how these things may manifest themselves as idols within us.
Throne of the Heart
As humans, we were created to worship. The Westminster Catechism states that the "Chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." We glorify Christ through worship and obedience. We are innately wired for worship, yet much of the world is not directing this worship to the rightful place. We tend to flip the roles and praise the gifts instead of the Giver.
Charles Spurgeon once said "If you delight more in God’s gifts than in God Himself, you are practically setting up another god above Him, and this you must never do." How true are these words? We have learned to delight in the gift because of its goodness while neglecting to recognize that the gift is only good because of Who gave it.
In order to guard our hearts from this detrimental idol worship, we need to think deeply about our choices, our delights, and how we spend our time. If we are enjoying our home because it is a fortress of solitude and a place to isolate ourselves from community, we are not stewarding the good gift God has given us. We are elevating comfort to the place of ultimate worship. It is not wrong to find delight in the gifts God has given us, but it is wrong for that delight to be greater than the joy and comfort we find in Christ.
Addressing Idol Worship
We are all guilty of idol worship. The idol worship I'm speaking of does not involve a golden calf or false gods such as Baal from the Old Testament. That type of idol worship would seem obvious to us, maybe even an easy fix. The idol worship I'm talking about is much more subtle. It manifests itself in the secrets we keep, the greed we cultivate, and the anger we spew when what we desire is threatened. Because we aren't actively bowing down or offering sacrifices, we assume we do not have an issue with idols. We could not be more wrong.
John Piper says "So what idolatry looks like today is the activity of the human heart. This is not a deed of the body… It starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God. That is an idol." Anything we treasure more than God. The trouble is that we would say with our mouths we don't treasure anything above God, but what do our actions say? What does it say about us when we skip church because we are out of town or just don't feel like going? What would our obsessive thoughts about our Instagram following say about the throne of our heart?
If you are finding your heart strays from the Lord, there is infinite hope and forgiveness. Our peace and comfort come from Christ. When we are feeling out of control it is likely because our throne is being occupied by something that cannot bring us the one thing we truly desire, full satisfaction in the Lord. Spurgeon gives a good description of how idols work in our lives. "Those things which we allow to take the chief place in our bosoms have the most power to give us grief."
The Ultimate Thing
The ultimate thing is worship of Jesus. There is nothing we can drum up to fill the void in our hearts, there is no man-made item that can patch the hole we feel. It is folly to pursue the things of this world as if they can satisfy us. "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11 The Psalmist is telling believers that only in the Lord can we be truly satisfied. The fullness of our joy is found in God alone. This should lead us to pursue Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of our longings and desires. Nothing of this world will fill our empty cups, even the good gifts. Because of this, we ought to abandon our worship of the gifts and give the ultimate glory and worship to the Gift Giver.