“For your own good … don’t sin by making an idol in any form at all.” Deut. 4:15-16
Whenever we put something ahead of God, we miss out on God’s best for our lives. I was in New York City a few years ago visiting our church in Manhattan. I was walking down the street, and I came upon a sidewalk with all these street vendors. They were selling some great stuff at unbelievable prices. You could pick up a Rolex watch for $25. It was amazing. I wondered why they had all their wares out on a blanket until the first police car pulled up, and they grabbed both ends of the blanket and whoosh, they were gone. The street was clear. They were selling knockoffs, cheap imitations of the real thing. Those weren’t quite Rolex watches they were selling, far from it. Those weren’t Gucci bags. Now, I have to admit that my kids bought these Oakley sunglasses for $2.00. That’s a good deal. Those things protect your eyes from the sun, they make you look cool, you are with it with Oakley’s. When I looked closer at the designer label, right there where the Oakley’s goes, I found out these aren’t really Oakley’s folks. These are Oakie sunglasses. They are awful. I couldn’t see anything through these. They were just a cheap imitation of the real thing.
An idol is simply a knockoff version of the real thing; it’s just a cheap imitation of what God wants to give us. We think that when we worship an idol, it will meet our ultimate needs, but all it does is just keep us from realizing and experiencing the real thing that God wants to give us. We think that an idol will bring us happiness, but it does just the opposite. It keeps God from meeting our real needs because we settle for a substitute. For example, we think that success will bring us happiness. But it doesn’t. That’s something success just can’t do. It’s okay to be successful, but when you put success as your ultimate goal in life, you will never be happy. What you need to bring you happiness is significance, to know that your life matters. To know that you have a purpose in life, that God placed you here for a reason.
The interesting thing is when you put God first in your life, and you don’t settle for the substitute, then He meets that ultimate need you have for significance. Something that success, the knockoff version, could never bring you. That need for significance, fulfillment, and purpose. Idols always promise more than they can deliver. Anytime you put a thing or a person ahead of God, you will be let down. Anytime you look to a person to solve all your problems, to guarantee your happiness, you’ll always be disappointed because no human being can deliver upon that. That’s too tall of an order. Only God can meet those needs. Idols always let you down because they steal our happiness. What are you putting before God that is stealing your happiness today?