Lately, I have been reading J.D. Greear’s new book Gospel. If you do not have a copy, I would highly recommend it. While preparing for my latest sermon, I happened to read his section on idolatry. In that section, he gives several questions we can ask ourselves to determine what may be an idol in our lives.
Idol: Can you define that, please?
An idol is anything that we allow to take the place of God in our lives. It is those things we give the most weight to, or think are necessary for life and happiness. Ultimately, an idol is anything that stands between us and God, hindering our relationship with Him because we are giving it our love, affections, and worship instead of God.
John Calvin likened our hearts to an idol factory because we are good at making things into idols. If our hearts are little idol making factories, how do we know if we have made something into an idol? J.D. Greear’s list of questions is helpful at this point.
Questions to Ask Yourself
(1) What thing have you sacrificed most for?
- A scholarship?
- A successful career?
- The perfect body?
Sacrifice and worship often go hand in hand. What you worship and prize the most is often shown by what you pursue the most. What you pursue the most could very well be your idol.
(2) Who is there in your life that you feel like you can’t forgive and why?
An inability to forgive could be connected to the fact that someone took away from you something you can’t be happy without. Something you depended on for your life, happiness, and security. Determining why you cannot forgive someone, could help you discover an idol in your life.
(3) What one thing do you most hope is in your future?
- Career success?
- A certain salary?
- Owning your own home? Or even a second one?
- Having the respect of your peers?
If you believe having these things will bring you happiness or acceptance, then the one thing you most hope for in your future could be your idol.
(4) What is the one thing you most worry about losing?
- Your job?
- Your family?
- The respect of your kids?
- The love of your spouse?
- Your money?
If you believe the loss of these things would be life ending, then the thing you most worry about losing could be your idol.
(5) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- Your looks?
- Your job?
- Your zipcode?
- Your car?
If you believe you would be happier by changing these things, then these could be your idol.
(6) When you do you feel the most significant?
- In other words:
- When do you hold your head up the highest?
- What is there that you hope people find out about you?
- Do you constantly mention:
- Your job?
- The job you hope you get ?
- Your new car?
- Your house?
- Your college degree?
- Does your heart soar with pride when you talk about your kids or grandkids?
Your identity is often wrapped up in what makes you feel the most significant. Discovering what makes you feel the most significant could help you determine your idol.
(7) Where do you turn for comfort when things are not going well?
- Your work?
- A truth about yourself? Like, I may not be a great athlete, but academically I am far above my peers.
Where you turn for comfort when things are not going well could reveal your idol.
(8) What triggers depression in you?
- Your kids not calling?
- The struggles in your marriage?
- Not getting the recognition you think you deserve?
- How little you think you have accomplished?
Barring any medical complications, depression is often triggered when something you deem essential for life is denied or taken away. The things that most often trigger depression in you could be your idol.
By honestly answering these questions, you should have a good idea if something is an idol in your life.
J.D. Greear Gospel: Recovering the power that made Christianity revolutionary, 70-75.