What, Exactly, Is An Idol?
by Joy Bach
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Do you worship an idol? If you immediately thought “no”, are you sure?
Here are some definitions of “idol”:
from the web:
• a material effigy that is worshipped; "thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image"; "money was his god"
• someone who is adored blindly and excessively
• paragon: an ideal instance; a perfect embodiment of a concept
A Christian definition:
An idol is a representation of something in the heavens or on the earth. It is used in worship and is often worshiped. It is an abomination to God (Exodus 20:4). Idolatry is bowing down before such an idol in adoration, prayer, or worship. In a loose sense, idolatry does not necessitate a material image or a religious system. It can be anything that takes the place of God: a car, a job, money, a person, a desire, etc. ...
Are you still sure you don’t have an idol?
In 1921, a unique American tradition began, known as “Miss America". Then came the Little Miss America Pageant". Next was a “Junior Miss Pageant” which was televised.
Do you think American women had an “idol”?
In 2002 a new television program was developed called “American Idol”. We just completed the seventh season and it is still going strong.
That is one form of “idols”. Remember the definition? It can be anything that takes the place of God: a car, a job, money, a person, a desire, etc. ...
In Billy Graham’s book, “The Journey” he states:
“All too often we allow our bodies to rule us, instead of us ruling them. For some this may take the form of slavery to alcohol or drugs or lust, or to some other habit or passion. For others it may take the form of something that isn’t necessarily wrong in itself, but we allow it to become the focus of our lives, and IT BECOMES OUR IDOL.”
I have had a great struggle for most of my life because of my focus on food. There is nothing wrong with food. We need to eat some every day. But when the need to eat becomes so overwhelming, it becomes our focus. Then, according to Billy Graham’s definition, food becomes our “idol”.
Still think you don’t have an idol?
In his book, Billy Graham suggests that we reflect on temptations so we’ll be better prepared to fight them.
Are we especially vulnerable around certain people, doing what they do because we want them to like us?
Are we especially tempted when we get in certain situations or go to particular places?
What weakness in our life is Satan trying to exploit?
Is he appealing to our pride? That has been another struggle of mine. I was raised to be so very proud that I was a little better than others. Pride can be an “idol”.
Again, quoting from Billy Graham’s book:
“Pride blinds us to our faults. It tells us we are better than we really are, so we feel no need to mend our ways. Pride also cuts us off from others.
We can be proud for many reasons: our possessions, physical appearance (just as the beauty pageants), abilities, social position, achievements and so forth. Pride is also at the root of prejudice and racism. These are sins in God’s eyes and have no place in the heart of any true believer.
But most of all, pride cuts us off from God. Christians can be driven by subtle forms of pride, looking down on others (including fellow believers) and exalting themselves at the expense of others.
Does this mean pride is always wrong? No. It’s not wrong to take pride in a job well done…..as long as we acknowledge that God gave us our abilities. Nor is it wrong to have a proper sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. The key is balance. The Bible says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought……”
So, pride can be an “idol”.
Again I ask, do you worship an idol?
I challenge you to watch yourself as you go through your day. What is it that causes your focus to change? And where does your focus go? How long does it stay there? Could it become an “idol”?
If you discover that you do, indeed, have an “idol”, then ask for God’s help in changing your focus. He’s waiting for you to notice Him.
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Thank you for this piece. We all need to be reminded about idols. Good job.