“Every good and perfect gift is from above”
See James 1:17
“Dad, you’re crazy! Why are you like this?!” my daughter blurts out.
“I don’t know, Grace, you tell me. You’re just like me!”
“No, I’m like Mom.”
“Nope! You’re more of me than you are of your mom. The dad is 51% responsible for their child’s genetics. The mom is only 49%!”
Whether my statistic is correct or not, Grace shouts, “Darn it! I’m like you!”
We have a good time, Grace and I, roasting one another. Yes, we love each other deeply, we give hugs and affection, saying, “I love you,” quite often. But we also enjoy a hearty razz. It’s part of our fun-filled, father-daughter relationship. Grace is a blast! I enjoy Grace.
One evening, she, Jennifer and I were eating dinner in the living room, cracking up about something, when all of a sudden I got this thought, “You’re making an idol of Grace.”
What? I said to myself. Where’d this thought come from? Since I understand the New Covenant, I instantly knew it wasn’t the truth.
I’m enjoying Grace too much? I’m making an idol of her? Ha! Yeah right!
This thought was incorrect, so why did I think it? It could’ve been the enemy or a representative of his, accusing me (see Revelation 12:10). It could’ve been the power of sin (see Romans 7:8-11), or it very well could’ve just been some old stinking thinking (see Romans 12:2). But it happened and I knew it wasn’t coming from my spirit or Christ within me.
Ultimately, this idol notion sprang up from some teaching I once sat under, as well as a couple books I read which focused on “not making idols in our lives.” The Old Testament Commandment of, “Thou shalt not have any other gods before me” was twisted into “no other idols before me” which was then contorted into: Anything or anyone in which we get too much pleasure from is an idol in our life. Repent quickly and refocus on God as your everything.
This teaching was, and is, for lack of a better term, dumpster-fire trash. Part of this garbage heaped from pulpits and book pages was, “Pay close attention to what you pay close attention to.” We had to analyze everything and everyone we derived enjoyment from! A paralysis of analysis ensued as we had to be 100% sure we weren’t making an idol of anything or anyone, including family members and ourselves! Here are some phrases we heard:
“Don’t make an idol out of your job! It can’t save you!”
“Don’t make an idol out of your looks! Stay humble and meek!”
“You’ve made an idol out of your own spouse! You’ve placed them above God and your actions prove that! Repent and put God first!”
“All you care about is your appearance on social media! Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are your idols! Get rid of them, lest you burn!”
Idol this, idol that, idol them. Some churches and authors are so focused on not making idols it’s impossible to enjoy anything let alone anyone. Just as soon as we begin to savor a good time or relationship–boom! “Oh no! I’m making an idol out of this!”
This Anno Domini law–which is any “law” we make up on this side of the Cross–has the same effect as any of Moses’ 613. For unbelievers, it reveals their need for grace. For believers, it reminds us of the grace we already have.
God’s grace allows us to enjoy our lives, hobbies, jobs, sex, relationships, successes, and ourselves. We don’t need to focus on not having any idols any more than we don’t need to focus on not shaving the edges of our beards; or for women, not thinking, “I’m ceremonially unclean,” during that time of the month (see Leviticus 15:19, 19:27).
If we fix our thoughts on protecting ourselves from supposed idols, Satan and the power of sin will have a field day.
Do you like golf? Idol!
Do you like a boyfriend or girlfriend? Idol!
Sports car? Idol!
Ministry or talent? Idols!
CrossFit or running? Idol, idol!
Video games? Idol!
Do you enjoy church? Preaching? Volunteering? Missionary work? Idol, idol, idol, idol! Even our struggles can be mistaken as idols. Drug and alcohol abuse? Porn, legalism, and status? Perfectionism, unforgiveness, impatience, and uber-criticism? Our struggles are not idols! They’re struggles!
“You worship that idol rather than God!” they’ll say. But why do they do this? Simple. It’s because they find their own identity in how well they’re doing at not having idols. It’s a fleshy comparison game cloaked from the pulpit, book pages, and internet posts. So what’s their greatest idol?
Not having any idols.
That’s no way to live.
So today, my friends, know this: James said every good and perfect gift is from above! (See James 1:17). God wants us to enjoy our lives! He wants us to find great pleasure in our friends, loved ones, occupation, retirement, sports, ministries, leisure, and fruits of our labor! He wants us to wear our blessings well! The good and perfect gifts He’s given? Enjoy them! You can even enjoy yourself! God does, why can’t you? Making idols of making idols is a silly thing. If you find yourself feeling guilty about taking delight in people, places, and things, do what I did when I thought the same about my own daughter. Enjoy them even more, and thank God, even more.
A prayer for you: Dad, there are times I forget that I’m currently enjoying the very things and people I’ve prayed for. I asked you for a family, a home, a business, good health, sobriety, and a greater knowledge of your grace. You’ve given me these wonderful gifts in spades! I’m exceedingly grateful! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear people have faced modern-day idol-worship teaching. Fear, guilt, condemnation, and religious manipulation has caused them so much stress and pain. Some have even forgotten HOW to enjoy their life. They’re too afraid of making idols. Let them know that’s not possible as your child. You want them to enjoy what you’ve given them to the fullest, and abundantly. Remind them that you get pleasure from THEM getting pleasure. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!