Idols of the Heart

Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the LORD came to me:

“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?"

Ezekiel 14:1-3, NIV


A remark by a dear friend of many years got me to thinking. It was after the mid-week worship last night, and a group of us were talking about our favorite football teams. This particular person was a big fan of a certain football team (for reasons only they would understand) and was talking about how serious they were during each game. Then that person commented on how careful we need to be to make sure that our support for a team does not become an idol.


I thought a lot about that short conversation as I prepared for writing today's article. I suppose we are all "fans" of some favorite team or another, and sometimes our fanaticism gets out of hand and becomes an idol of the heart.


Let's explore that thought for a moment. This subject of idols has been one that mankind has struggled with from the beginning. The forbidden fruit had to be sampled, or so thought Adam and Eve at the time. Though they knew it was wrong, they placed their desire for a stupid piece of fruit over their devotion to God. Cain did the same thing when he placed his indignation towards his brother over God's instruction and over what should have been a love for his brother. His idol of the heart ended in murder!


We do the same thing, don't we? We know we should not view things that have evil content or wicked words, but we watch movies that sometimes border the edge of pornography, or that have foul language that includes even curses of our Lord's holy name. We go to worship sometimes, hardly being able to keep our thoughts off of the "big game" that was already played or that is about to be played. Millions of Christians took a break from God over the past few years for health concerns, only to watch their spiritual health decline to the point of being on life support.


How many people have yielded to temptation and peer pressure, not wanting to look foolish in the eyes of men, only to become fools in the eyes of God. And we haven't even mentioned money, perhaps the greatest idol men have ever made in their hearts. How many of us have become separated from God because of this idol's irresistible urges?


There are an infinite number of examples of such idols of the heart, but we see the point. We all struggle with it, but just acknowledging the sin is not enough: We have to do something about it. If the object that has become an idol within our heart is not sinful in its nature, then we can still have some dealings with it (in other words, you don't have to give up your bank accounts) but deal with it we must. And if our idols are "forbidden fruit" then we must put them off as thoroughly as we possibly can.


One last thought: In Ezekiel's time the Lord pointed out that such idol worshippers had no right to even consult Him. It's something to think about, for we can indeed lose the right to even pray if our idolatry is allowed to go too far. Therefore, it behooves us all to consider our own idols of our own hearts and do something about it. These "gods" can only cause our souls to be lost, so we must repent and turn back to the only God able to restore our souls to life eternal.


Do you have any idols of the heart?