Finding My Hidden Idols
A Devotional by Robin Kot and Grace Covers
We’ve been striving in our Women’s Ministries Bible Studies to dig deep in our hearts and discover the real motives for our sins. This was especially stressed during our recent study of Proverbs. I’m not great at self-analysis, and even worse at analyzing my Sins—I like to forget about them! Somehow, I seem to think I can keep them—and my motives—from God if I don’t dig too deep. Well, we all know that’s not true. “For the Word Of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 Our omniscient Father already knows when and why we Sin. He wants us to understand what we have done, why that is a sin against Him and repent.
I recently read a paper by Tim Keller “Idols of the Heart” that really helped me in this pursuit. He encouraged us to pay attention to what we devote our thoughts to. What do you think (obsess?) about? It’s a great clue to your functional Idols. In paying attention, I realized I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I am going to say (conversations, emails, even prayers!) or what I have already said. If you think my thinking about a prayer is a good thing, I confess it’s really not. I’m thinking about what I’ll say to sound good when I know I’ll be praying aloud. I want to sound like I’m versed on the topic, aware of needs, concerned about growth, a worthy leader… It’s not a prayer, it’s practice for a speech and I’m ‘performing’ for my own and other people’s judgement, not His glory. Ouch! A real prayer would come from the heart, maybe be a bit jumbled, but be wholly sincere.
In reflecting on this I realize my real idol is the approval of others (or people pleasing) You may at first glance think this is the sort of Idol you’d confess if you want to sound good—like the stereotypical interview Q and A where you’re asked what your greatest weakness is and you say “Oh, I’m just too much of a perfectionist! I can’t stop working until it’s perfect!” Sounds like a people pleaser to me!
Anyway, my idol is putting the opinions of people over (of greater importance) than the opinion of God. I care more about what they think of my prayer, event, email, etc. then I care what God thinks about it! That is so horrible to admit, but it is better to shine the light on it than to keep it hidden. It is only then that I can root it out, repent, and please God. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16Another technique Keller mentioned was noticing what makes you really angry. I get the most upset when someone criticizes me, directly or indirectly. If it’s someone really close to me, like my husband, I’ll lash out in self-protective mode. If it’s anyone else, I’ll just think it (self-rationalization thoughts about why I’m right and they’re wrong.) But I know that “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31 And I really do want to be wise in the Lord. I thought this was the sin of pride, making my idol be myself, I guess. But digging deeper, it goes back to people pleasing; the approval of others. Since I’m being brutally honest here, it’s about them thinking I’m good enough, qualified enough, worthy enough to be there friend, leader, spouse, etc. As if they’d reject me if whatever they were criticizing was true. In reality, a gracious apology or at least a gracious ‘I’ll give that some thought’ would be much more appealing. But I want to feel loved for who I am, good enough as I am. Know this: God does love me for who I am and He loves you for who you are. He loves us enough to die for us and those sins we hold so closely. He loves us enough to help us move into the light and live a life free from the slavery of sin and idols. Don’t resist His lessons, His ways are always better. I’m really going to try to work on this, in His strength. Please pray for me! I’d love to hear about your functional idols and how I can pray for you!