Seeing the Nepalese people pay tribute to idols was part of everyday life when we lived in that land. Men and women alike placed dishes containing cooked rice or pieces of fresh fruit such as bananas, guavas and papayas before stone-carved deities. They laid marigolds at the idols’ feet, and they sprinkled red powder on their heads. On one occasion, we watched a group of men slit a goat’s throat and spray the blood over the idol to express gratitude for an abundant harvest.
Watching stone gods receive such adoration saddened and sickened me. I found it difficult to imagine why men and women would lavish time and attention on a dirty rock. I knew with certainty that I’d never be so foolish. Idolatry would never be an issue in my life, I assured myself. I was wrong.
Nearly three decades have passed, and I’m a wee bit wiser. Today I understand the subtleties of idolatry. Stone gods don’t tempt me even a smidgeon, but the desire to have a nice house does. So does the lure of a good reputation. And the longing for an effective ministry. I must constantly guard my heart lest I lose my focus and lavish my devotion on these modern-day idols rather than on the living God Himself.
Ezekiel 14:3 says, “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin.” As believers today, we might never consider committing idolatry, as we tend to think about it, by falling on our faces and worshiping a carved stone. But we can slip into idolatry in our hearts by giving our love to something other than God. A temporal object, a person, a goal…anything that seduces our affection away from where it belongs can be considered an idol. And God watches, feeling saddened and sickened just as I did when I watched the Nepalese worship stones.
Let’s give God the honor He’s due. Let’s be cautious not to set up idols in our hearts, placing more value on things or people or goals—albeit good ones—than on Christ. Let’s ask Him to make us super-sensitive to His Spirit so we’ll be instantly aware if we so much as tiptoe towards idolatry lest we fall into sin. The living God deserves our complete devotion, so let’s give it to Him alone.
God bless you today, my friend. Have a great weekend!