Little children, keep yourselves from idols. ~1 John 5:21
Its funny how one may complain when the sermon goes just a few minutes longer than they expected but get excited when the football game goes into overtime. Its funny how one may justify missing church on Sunday but set aside everything to make sure that they do not miss the season premiere of their favorite TV show. Its funny how there seems to be no time to read and study Scripture yet one can always find time to watch TV for two hours and go through the whole newspaper. Where does our treasure really lie? How concerned are we about the things of God?
Now the things mentioned may not be bad in themselves; depending on the content. I am not dissing football at all. I root my Redskins on when they have a good game. I have certain TV shows that I may watch from time to time. The issue comes with where we place our priorities and devotion. John Calvin said it well when he stated, "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."
The Apostle John closes his letter with this warning that we should keep ourselves from idols. We often think of idols as a golden bull calf or a wooden statue. However, an idol is much more than that. Anything can become an idol if we place its value above God or desire it more than God Himself. It is worshiping and serving something that is “created” instead of the “Creator” (Romans 1:24). Ken Sande has defined an idol as “something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29;1 Cor. 10:6), that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5), that masters or rules us (Ps. 119:133), or that we serve (Matt. 6:24).” This may be an object, person, or even an idea. It can even be something good or beneficial but if it becomes the center of our universe and what we desire more than anything else, then we have crafted it to be an idol, and thus a rival god.
The fact that John gives us this warning indicates that we are susceptible to idolatry. It is so easy for something we desire or devote our time to take the place of our focus and commitment for God. He commands us to guard or keep ourselves from this idolatry. This means that we need to constantly be on the alert about anything we desire too much that may distract us from our worship of God or lead us away from Him. In fact, the Greek term used here for guard is the same term used to describe the actions of shepherds in relation to their flocks and soldiers with their prisoners. Both shepherds and soldiers have to maintain a close watch over those entrusted to them, protect them, and make sure that they do not go astray or escape. We must keep a close watch on ourselves at all times to ensure that we are not giving something or someone more attention than what we should be giving to God. We need to protect ourselves from crafting an idol by constantly keeping God as the center of all that we say and do. Being thankful to Him and seeking to use everything He gives for His glory. Daily study of God’s Word and regular times of prayer can aid us in keeping John’s instruction. May we be diligent to always put God first and do all things for Him and never give the glory that He deserves to any other.
I am the LORD; that is My name;
My glory I give to no other,
nor My praise to carved idols.
Love in Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!