What is an idol?

What is an idol?

An idol is anything we love more than God.  It may be an object or a feeling, a future or a reputation.  Often, an idol starts as a very good thing, but then we place it on the throne of our hearts and it becomes a despot, a tyrant–with laws to follow and false promises that never quite deliver, but always leave us coming back for more.

Meth is an idol. People want what it gives and choose to obey its beckoning voice rather than God. Of course what it gives only leaves you empty for more.

Praise is an idol. People want to be praised, to be noticed, to be honored, to be remembered. We choose to obey its beckoning voice and we lie, conceal, strive, worry, and demand rather than trusting our reputation to God.

Some idols are condemned by culture and some are ignored, but all idols offend God.

Jesus died for idol worshipers and was punished for idolatry.  He received the judgment for an infinite list of placing idols on the throne of an infinite number of hearts. Jesus was crushed because of my idolatry.  He sent his Spirit to eradicate idol worship from my heart. He’ll be cleaning out those idols right up to the moment of his return, when every heart corner will be swept clean, every idol toppled and exiled, and only God remains on the throne.

An idol is anything we love more than God. Jesus died to save us from idolatry and its consequences. And he died to reveal that only God is worth the worship and love and hope we have invested elsewhere. He’s the only one who deserves to be on the throne.  He’s the reason that the apostle John counseled all of us:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21


Photo by Will Foster