I was driving around running errands with my kids in the back seats of my van. The youngest was sleeping, the air conditioning was running, and we had The Greatest Showman soundtrack playing in the background. My middle son was asking the other kids “would you rather” questions to be silly and pass the time. One of them in particular caught my attention.
Most of the questions he made up were fun and silly. Things like, “would you rather eat only tacos or burgers for the rest of your life?” or “would you rather walk backwards or walk on your hands all day?” Then he got to one that even made me stop and think.
Would you rather be rich and hate God, or be poor and love God?
Which would you choose?
The others, without hesitation, chose to be poor and love God. I was happy with their answers, of course, and I had answered the same in my mind. Any Christ follower would, right?
We know what the right answer is. We know the Bible verses that say “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37).
The question is, then, do we live that out? Is choosing God over money or anything else just lip service, or is it really our heart.
When we put anything ahead of God in our lives we make that thing an idol. Just like the Israelites when they made a golden calf while Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 commandments. We take other things and make them our god by putting them in the place in our lives that only God should hold.
The idols we worship nowadays aren’t necessarily carvings of wood, stone or gold. Sometimes they are a little plastic device that we jump to answer when it rings and stare at for hours. If only God so readily had our attention.
For some our idols may be our children or our spouse, our job or our to-do list, our favorite sport or our education, our self care or our homemaking, politics or social media. We can become our own idol when we only think about ourselves and put ourselves above all else. Even our ministry can become an idol when it becomes more important, or takes up more of our heart and thoughts, than God Himself.
Anything we become more devoted and more loyal to than God is an idol. Things like education and sports and our children are not bad things in and of themselves. It’s when we esteem them as higher than God that we sin.
We read over and over in the Bible about what God thinks of man’s idols and false gods. Take Jeremiah 2 for example. This chapter talks about how His people have turned away from God to follow false gods and worship idols. The second half of verse 11 says “But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit.” Meaning they have left Him to pursue things that ultimately do them no good. He continues this idea in verse 27-28 saying “But in the time of their trouble they will say ‘Arise and save us!’ But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble;”
Our idols cannot save us. Only the true God can. So He is the only one worthy of our worship and complete loyalty.
Casting Down our Idols
Casting down our idols can be tricky. We first have to identify what our idols are. This is a point where we have to become very self-aware and honest with ourselves. We also need to take it to God and ask Him to reveal our idols to us. And when He opens our eyes to them, we have to be willing. Willing to see them for what they are and willing to remove them from God’s place. With His help, of course. Even if that means removing something from our lives all together.
It is only with God’s help that we can once and for all remove an idol from God’s place in our lives. For much of history it has been people’s natural inclination to worship and devote themselves to something. And as we read through the Old Testament we see how easy it was for God’s people to be led astray into idolatry. But in the New Testament we see a heart change in those who are filled with God’s Spirit, and people like Peter and Paul live only to please God and don’t sway from their faith.
In order to keep God as our God, we first need to allow the Spirit to reside in us and work in us. Then we need to do our part of the work by taking our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), reading the Word and meditating on it (Romans 12:2), and worshiping God alone (Psalm 96:4). We also need to manage our time, making sure to prioritize our time with the Lord.
Things like relationships, especially those with our spouse and children, can’t be all together removed from our life! That’s OK! We just have to make changes to put them in their rightful place in our affections and priorities. God first, spouse second, children third, other family fourth, and other people fifth.
Sometimes we may be fighting an addiction that has become our God. We can become addicted to being on our phones, either on social media or on games. Addiction may come in the form of food, shopping, alcohol, exercise, or anything else that we become obsessed with and feel as though we have to have. Most addictions require outside help to break, so I would suggest seeking counseling as well as praying and doing the work God tells us to do.
Answering the “Would you Rather?”
Right now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we might be ashamed of our answers to the “would you rather” questions regarding God. We know we should always choose God, but there are times we don’t. However, with God’s help, we can cast down our idols and and truly choose God.