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Grace Forfeited

“Idolatry: trusting people, possessions, and positions to do for me what only God can do.”

Bill Gothard

Idols come in various forms. They can be a hobby that consumes our time, finances, and focus. Possessions or positions, which make us feel significant, are also idols. Social media, gives us a false sense of closeness to people. As a child, I comforted myself by reading books. When I became anxious, I bit my nails. Occasionally I still run to the pantry when I’m stressed. There was a season when friendships played too important of a role in my life. I’m familiar with fearing man and wanting the approval of others, which are also signs of idolatry. Anything we go to, to meet a need in our hearts, instead of going to God, is an idol. When we replace God with an idol, we settle for less than second best. Idols are poor substitutes for God.

Even though Jonah was disobedient to God, we can still learn from his life. While Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, he prayed: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). When we embrace other little gods to try and fill the void in our lives, to calm our anxiety, or comfort us in adversity, then we won’t experience enablement from God. God’s gift of grace is always waiting in the wings for us. But if we choose these other idols then we miss what could meet our needs. The choice is always up to us. We can either run to God for help that will satisfy and last, or we can run to our idols.

Almost thirty years ago, I coveted a cobalt blue cable sweater from Land’s End. It was too expensive for us to buy, but for Christmas, my parents sent me the money to purchase it. I remember being so excited and once I received it, it didn’t satisfy. Idols lie to us and say they’ll give us what we desire, but God is the only one who can do that. Only God can fill the void in our hearts and make us content.

Even this morning I chose to spend ten minutes with my Facebook idol, rather than listening to God speak to me. No one and nothing can give me intimacy and contentment, like God can. Idols won’t satisfy my longings, but God’s grace will always give me what I need, to empower me to do what He desires. Let’s not forfeit the grace of God for our worthless idols.

“The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.”

Timothy Keller

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What idols do you turn to for comfort, instead of God?

  2. Have they brought you lasting satisfaction?

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