Respect or Idolatry?

It is easy to be caught up with the world’s mindset. Many times we are easily swayed into thinking like them. For instance, I have known myself to become really excited about a movie coming out, or a particular performer that is coming to my area. To an extent, such happiness is only natural, but sometimes it is inappropriate.  Yes, inappropriate.

The world idolizes people. They glorify individuals as great and magnificent, when really, they are really only men. Perhaps you don’t have an artist or director you idolize, maybe it’s a figure in history, maybe it’s a character in the Bible. Perhaps a certain national or world leader. You think well of them. You have a certain awe for them. You idolize them. You wish you could meet them. Perhaps you think of them so much that you daydream about how awesome it would be to meet them. 

Now, to an extent, that is perfectly appropriate to think well of a person and want to meet them. But far to often I have experienced that in my life and in the lives of others that such thoughts of a person become out of perspective, and sometimes sin. 

God tells us, “There is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) God also tells us in the same chapter that He will give everyone according to their works whether they are good or bad.

Out of God’s own mouth we know that He does not hold any certain “awe” for anyone. Whether they were rich or poor, popular or unknown, talented or devoid of talent, they will all stand before God. He will judge them according to what they did with what He gave them.

To be honest, I can’t give you a specific verse that tells you exactly the difference between simple respect and idolatry. I can’t draw the line between a healthy respect for individuals and flat out idolatry. That is for you to find in your own life. I challenge you, ask God to search your heart. Ask Him to teach you what is a right and what is not. You may or may not need to adjust your attitude. However you act or think, I would encourage you to use this simple test. Ask yourself, “In eternity, would I be this excited? When all is said and done, and we stand before God alone, would I think the same of this?” It has helped me, I believe it may help you. 

Let us not be as some who, “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

Let us adore God alone.

Break the snakes

There are many good things in life that God gives us. He gives us certain things for certain times in our lives. Sometimes, the things that God has given us, loose their effectiveness. They were great for a time, but now God wants us to continue on. One example of something that lost its effectiveness was the brazen serpent in the Old testament.

You see, at one time, the Israelites were very disobedient and ungrateful to God. God allowed judgment to come upon them in the form of deadly snakes. When the people repented, God told Moses to make a brass snake. Anyone who looked at it, would be healed as a result of their obedience. (Numbers 21)

Years later, the Israelites still had the brass snake. You might think, Oh, thats nice, they have a piece of their history. But that was not all. They had started to worship the snake. They were burning incense to it, and treating it like a deity. God was not pleased, and when Hezekiah destroyed it because of their worship, God was pleased. (2 Kings 18:4)

Hezekiah looked at it and called it, Nehushtan or a thing of brass. Hezekiah had a proper view of the brass snake. He called it a thing. An item. It had no importance. God had used it in the past, but it was God that was special, not the thing He used.

Perhaps there are some brass serpents in your life. Think for a moment, what has God used greatly in your life? What has he used to help you grow the most? Perhaps it was a book you read, or a speaker you heard? I know in my life, I have often elevated people or tools that have helped me in my walk with God. Some of my attitude was a healthy respect, but there were times when it was in a sense an actual worship.

I would like to challenge you, if you find yourself in need of anything, realize that it is God that you need. When God works through your pastor, dont allow yourself to worship him. Look beyond the creation, and see the Creator who is the true provider. Dont ever ascribe worship or anything like it to Gods creation. God alone is worthy of our worship.

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

Are you loving yourself?

In 2 Timothy 3:2 we find a passage that talks about evil men in the end times. It says, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves . . ." Think about the idea of these people loving themselves. They don’t care about others, about God, about anything other than what pleases them. Is this love?

If we read the book of Ecclesiastes, we will find a common theme: "All is vanity." Solomon loved God for a while, but later in life he sought pleasure other things. In the end, he found pleasure in nothing. I think he sums it up best when he says in Ecclesiastes 2:17, "I hated life."

Clearly, it is not in a person’s best interest to try to please himself with the things of the world. So those men in 2 Timothy don’t really know what love is. The word for ‘love’ used in 2 Timothy is the word that means ‘feeling.’ They like to make themselves feel good. Making oneself feel good temporarily, does not work in someone’s best interest and is not love.

Let me give you an illustration of true love for oneself. In Ephesians 5, Paul is encouraging husbands to love their wives properly. He says in verse 28, "He that loveth his wife loveth himself." The word for love here, means a love that is real. A love that motivates someone to action. Think about the idea presented in the verse: the man who loves his wife, is really loving himself. Why would that be? I would submit to you that it is in the man’s best interest to act out of love for his wife. So when he treats her right, he is doing himself a favor.

Let’s take that principle and apply it to the 2 Timothy verse. These men love themselves, with a feeling kind of love. If you look in the Bible, you will not find someone who lived a life for earthly pleasure, and enjoyed long-lasting benefits. It just doesn’t happen. What we do find, is that when a person submits to God and serves Him, they are blessed. They achieve true joy. True peace. And true benefits.

I would like to share with you. You are only truly loving yourself when you are completely surrendered to God. When you give up all your worldly pleasures and seek God alone. We will find true joy and satisfaction in our Creator. So let us serve Him. Not because we will truly love ourselves, but because He is worthy. Because He is our Creator. We were created to fulfill our purpose of pleasing Him. So let us please Him. In doing so, we are acting in our best interest, and truly loving ourselves.

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." – Revelation 4:11

Are you truly loving yourself?