The Golden Calves in Our Lives

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

by: Alicia Clarke

Commandment #1: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)

Commandment #2: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image.” (Exodus 20:4)

I used to think that I could count a credit to myself that I was, at least, following the first two commandments. I fully recognized and believed that God, the Father, decided to save us by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to Earth. Jesus lived the perfect life that we are supposed to live, but don’t. Then at the end of his life, He died on the cross. While on the cross, He bore our sins in His body. That means He took the punishment that we deserved for our sins. Then He arose from the dead and lives to intercede for believers when they sin. I fully believed and accepted the above, so check, number one fulfilled by me because I believe in God. And of course, I don’t have a golden calf in the house, so check, #2 fulfilled!

These are the two commandments most of us do not think we ever break! We tend to imagine an idol worshipper lying prostrate before a carved image. Yet, the command is much broader than that. An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in our lives. It is anything—an object, idea, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, power, sex, our physical bodies, money or a person—that is your primary concern, or that to any degree decreases your trust and loyalty to God. The problem of idolatry lies in our hearts. Not all our desires are bad, but the trouble comes in when the desire or idol becomes a greater desire than our obedience to God and His Word. The Bible makes it clear that an idol is anything we have more faith in than God, anything we worship instead of God, or anything we believe has the power to change us and our circumstances.

How do I know what the idols are in my life? The answer taught to me was found in these questions. Am I willing to sin to get this idol or respond sinfully if I don’t get this idol? Where do I spend my time and thought life? Which of these things do I hold in such esteem that I don’t believe I could ever be happy without them? Search your heart and look for what might be in the place that is to be reserved for God. We are commanded to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). He commands for us to have Him supreme in our lives-before everyone and everything else.

Now, if you have made a good thing an ultimate thing in your life, how do you change that? How do you rid idols from your heart? The answer isn’t always to remove the object of our idolatry from our life, to stop loving it, or even to love it less. After all, our family can become the object of our idolatry, but the answer isn’t to love them less. The answer is to love God MORE!

We must allow ourselves to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) so our love for Him shoves everything else aside, out of His presence, out of the “God” place in our hearts. We must allow God’s magnificence and glory to fill our hearts and minds.

This is why prayer, Bible study, and praise are so very important! These acts help us see the glory and majesty of God and diminish our dependence on created things. True contentment, true satisfaction, true worth, true joy, true fulfillment—these are only to be found in Christ. All other things serve to magnify His greatness and push our souls upward in grateful thanks and praise. And if they were all taken away? We would still have Jesus!

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