THE SUBTLETY OF IDOLATORY
The Scripture affirms that God is a jealous God and will have no other God’s before Him. [Ex 34:14] Especially, if you are a child of God, then He is jealous over you with a godly jealousy! He will not permit you to put any other gods before Him!
Incidentally a ‘god’ or an ‘idol’ is not just something made of stone or wood which the pagans bow before.
According to J.C. Philpot – “NOTHING IS TOO SMALL OR TOO INSIGNIFICANT WHICH, AT TIMES, MAY NOT BE AN IDOL; EVEN A TULIP OR A GOOSEBERRY! “What a wonderful large gooseberry! What a beautiful tulip”! Some will walk up and down their garden on the Lord’s day admiring their gooseberry trees, and praising the fruit, how fine and large it is; others their tulips or anemones. They look at them and admire them, fearful the frost may have done them some injury. THIS is idolatry, because it is something, which, for the time, the mind is looking at before God.
Whatever is meditated on preferably to God, whatever is desired more than he, whatever more interests us, pleases us, occupies our waking hours, or is more constantly in our mind, becomes an idol and a source of sin.
It is not the magnitude of the idol, but its existence as an object of worship, that constitutes idolatry. I have seen some Burmese idols not much larger than my hand, and I have seen some Egyptian idols weighing many tons. But both were equally idols, and the comparative size had nothing to do with the question. So spiritually, the idol is not to be measured by its size, its relative importance or non-importance. A flower may be as much an idol to one man as a chest full of gold to another. If you watch your heart, you will see idols rising and setting all day long, nearly as thickly as the stars by night.”
But the good Lord is faithful to show His children their ‘gods’ and ‘idols’ and give them the willingness to forsake them! “Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols”? [Hosea 14:8]
God always knows what our ‘idols’ are and what it is that is very dear to us and generally requires THAT! God requiring the Issac whom Abraham loved as an offering is a case in point!
“And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; AND THE LORD DELIVERED THEM INTO HIS HANDS. . . .
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his DAUGHTER came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and SHE WAS HIS ONLY CHILD; beside her he had neither son nor daughter”! [Judges 11:30-34]
Since the beginning of time men have forsaken all sorts of things for the Lord and His Kingdom. But they have never been the worse for forsaking them.
As the Master said – “Verily I say unto you, There is NO MAN that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive AN HUNDREDFOLD NOW IN THIS TIME, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life”. [Mark 10:29,30]
David Livingstone, the British missionary who pioneered the jungles of Africa and died there, said, “I NEVER MADE A SACRIFICE!” He gave EVERYTHING, but knew that what he was getting in return was worth much more than anything he could possibly give! Although he gave his life, he reaped dividends in immortal souls, thousands reached with the gospel!
God is a debtor to NO MAN! No man ever makes a ‘sacrifice’ to God which God does not pay back a hundredfold!
But no true child of God gives or sacrifices with an intention to get a hundredfold. They give whatever God requires of them because they love Him above everything! It is only the false ‘Prosperity Preachers’ like Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar who urge their congregations to ‘GIVE’ that they may ‘GET’!
But the true children of God give expecting NOTHING, and God in turn opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing that there will be no room enough to receive it! [Mal 3:10]