When people think of idolatry, the obvious idea is that it’s the worshipping of something: an image, statue, etc. But to the Christ follower, idolatry comes in many other subtle ways and has been around since Adam & Eve (wanting what they were told not to touch). We consider idolatry in our lives as anything having greater importance than God. We can idolize money in many ways. We idolize it when we put our hope, faith, and future in it. We idolize it by fear and worry of not having enough of it, and by not being generous with it because of this fear. We idolize money by allowing it to drive our decision making process.
Our possessions can also become idols for many of the same reasons. I’m reminded of the rich young ruler from Matthew 19:16-22. The young man believed he was a good person and genuinely wanted to know what one thing he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus walked him through how he needed to keep the ten commandments. The young ruler replied that he has kept them all, “What do I still lack?”, he asked in verse 20. Jesus, already knowing the condition of the rich young ruler’s heart, replied, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Dejected, the young rich ruler walked away “sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” As we can be accustomed, we often are the ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ when reading the Bible. If you’re like me, you may be thinking, ‘He had Jesus Christ Himself standing in front of him and he still didn’t want to give up his earthly possessions?! Is he crazy!?’ But let’s take a step back and consider this story in relation to our own lives. If we were asked to leave everything behind to follow Jesus Christ, would we? Do you find any relief in knowing that Jesus hasn’t asked us to give away everything we own? Do we cling to material possessions more than we should? How long are you able to go without having your smartphone in your hand? How many of us have addictions to foods, coffee, sports, online streaming services? If you were asked to give it up for Jesus Christ, would you? Suddenly that rich young ruler’s response becomes relatable.
Often, idolatry comes in the form of where we spend our time. I already mentioned our smartphones. I’m as guilty as anyone of spending way too much time scrolling through whatever pops up next. Luke 16:13 says “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” When we consider where our free time is being spent, we have then identified who or what we are a servant to. Back in Luke chapter 12, verse 34 tells us, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. What we value most in our lives is who we ultimately are. Just like the rich young ruler, God knows our hearts. And just like the rich young ruler, we can often deceive ourselves into thinking we are much better than we really are.
Let me know what you think. Christopher.Hull@CeteraInvestors.com or 716-707-1818.
Next in the series: Idols, Continued
The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Investors and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change without notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results.