One of the most overlooked parts of the ten commandments might be number two: You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. What’s the first thing you think of when the word ‘idol’ is mentioned? A golden calf? Pagan worship? Pagan idol worship was very relevant in the time of the Israelites. But today we’d have a hard time visualizing a group of people standing around a calf to worship it. Unfortunately, the idea of idolatry often gets pushed aside as irrelevant because people associate it with the Old Testament worship of idols. The reality is that this commandment may just be one of the most relevant commandments for us today. Defining Idolatry I recently finished reading a book called Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller . The author made it a point in the beginning to define idolatry. He called an idol ‘anything that’s more fundamental than God is to your happiness, meaning in life, or identity. In many cases, idols are not bad things – they’re just good things turned into ‘ultimate’ things.’ Does that help you understand the second commandment a little better? It certainly helped me to see it in a different light. While it’s true that money , sex, and power are three of the most powerful idols in the world today, we can allow other things to take the place of God in our life just as easily. Potential Idols Here are just a few that can easily cause us to replace our focus on God with the desire to succeed in these areas. Work We spend eight or more hours each day doing everything that we can to separate ourselves from the pack at work. The desire to get a new position or increase in pay can easily cause us to think about our job nonstop. For some, it can be all-consuming, and can quickly erode relationships at home or even at work. Family This sounds strange to think, but family (both spouse and children) can become an idol if we elevate them above God in our life. Just think about when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. God asked him to do the unthinkable, and instead of elevating his most precious thing – his son Isaac – he obeyed God to the point of raising the knife to kill Isaac. God provided a ram that day and Abraham’s obedience is a testament to God’s grace and desire for use to keep our lives free from idols. Academics The achievement of completing a degree or getting high marks can become an idol in our lives. When nothing is more important than getting good grades, the idol of achievement in academics can take the place of God. If your satisfaction comes through getting good grades instead of your relationship with God, it’s time to reevaluate what you elevate in your life. Sports, politics, and entertainment Almost anything can cause us to be so enamored that we can put the most important things aside. The hardest part is that it’s not because we don’t care about our relationship with God, it’s just that we’ve missed the mark on setting our priorities. Identifying and Replacing Your Idols When Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” he was showing us how we can identify idols in our life. If our thoughts are constantly being drawn to making more money, or to getting a better job, or going on another vacation, there’s a good possibility that we’re elevating those things to become ultimate things. Remember, a lot of times, idols like our job, academics, or money are good things. It’s when we make them into the ‘ultimate’ thing or ‘end goal’ that we’ve turned them into idols. In the book of Colossians, Paul shares three things that will guide us in replacing our idols. The first five verses of Colossians chapter three provide encouragement and guidance for those who have identified idols in their own life. Set your hearts on the things above, where Christ is seated. Set your minds on the things above, not earthly things. Put to death the earthly desires. If I had to sum up these five verses, I’d say the main point is to renew your hearts and minds daily. When we start our day in God’s Word and make prayer a focus in our lives, we’ll be able to recognize idols before they grow too big. Do you have any encouragement for those who are trying to defeat idols in their life? Share it with us in the comments. Prayer image from Shutterstock Related Articles: Gospel Neighboring, Your Money, and Fighting Idols How to Change the World by 5pm! Learn to say NO What Money Is Not . . . 10 Ways To Simplify Your Life (And Make and Save Money In The Process) How to quit spending more money than you make The Courage to Be Rich | Book Review Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook . The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. Please contact a financial professional for specific advice regarding your situation. Also, many of the CPF articles help us pay the bills by using affiliate relationships with Amazon, Google, eBay and others. Find out more here .
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How to Remove Idols from Your Life