Do you have boxes in your heart? Places into which, even if you believe you genuinely love God, you are afraid or unwilling to allow Him into? If so, you are on dangerous ground, because as the people of God, we must not have any idols.
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5)
Today’s verse states a frightening fact—at least it ought to be frightening to those of us who hope to experience eternity with God. It reveals that there are certain people who have no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God:” fornicators, unclean persons, and the covetous, who are identified as being idolatrous. Yet Jesus told two separate parables showing how important being part of God’s kingdom is:
”The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when someone finds a treasure hidden in a field and buries it again. A person like that is happy and goes and sells everything in order to buy that field. The kingdom of heaven is like what happens when a shop owner is looking for fine pearls. After finding a very valuable one, the owner goes and sells everything in order to buy that pearl.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
So what should we conclude from this? What we should conclude is that there is nothing we shouldn’t be willing to give up in order to get God and be with Him forever—that He is that genuinely precious! Yet the truth is that many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have heart idols—little packages, so to speak—that we are reluctant to hand over to the One we claim as Lord.
Like many people, I genuinely believe I love God. I trust Christ’s finished work on the cross for my salvation; I try to obey His Word. Yet God showed me that I have deeply rooted aspirations—hopes, desires, wishes—that I still fear relinquishing into His hands. These are the “I love You, Lord, but please don’t take this away from me” things; the items to which we attribute the greatest human value, and the ones that would most shake our identity if removed from our life. In other words, they are our potential idols.
Potential, because it isn’t necessarily wrong to have hopes or aspirations. One of my most strongly entrenched goals, for example, is successfully providing our three children with a college education. This is something that was very important in my mother’s family, and I do believe that in some way, I would feel a failure if I was precluded from achieving. For other people, it might certainly be something else—a marriage, a position, even a possession—anything really.
The crux of the issue, however, is “What am I willing to do to accomplish this goal or have this possession?” If I am willing to disobey God—to violate His commandments and principles—it has crossed the line from aspiration to idol, because an idol is something I value more than God. This, of course, is just another way of saying that I worship it, because I have given to it the position of preeminence in my life that belongs only to my rightful Lord and Master.
Ahab idolized Naboth’s vineyard, and was willing to allow Jezebel arrange his murder to get it. David idolized Bathsheba, because he wrongly took the wife of another man and arranged his murder to cover it up. Jesus revealed the possessions of the rich young ruler to be his idol, because he was not willing to part with them when asked to do so by Christ. Yet the first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 30:3)
It is interesting that as we come to know God better, we tend to love and trust Him more–to see with His vision–and as we do, other things fade into the background of relative insignificance in light of eternity. This is where we want to be–we want to be able to see the value of things as God sees them. David eventually saw this and penned these words:
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)
So do you still have boxes—idols—in your life that you are unwilling to give up to the Lord? Or have you come to understand that “having an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” is the greatest treasure and most precious pearl, to be gotten at any cost?
Help us see with Your eyes. Help us trust You with our eternity, and be willing to give up even our most treasured “boxes” rather than lose out on You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.