Remember how the Israelites began to worship what started out as a good thing but became too much of a good thing: a bronze serpent they called “Nehushtan.”
We can make an idol out of anything or anyone in life. A church building can become an idol to us, when all the while it is simply a place to meet and worship our Lord—nothing more. Your child can become your idol . . . in subtle ways you can so adore that little one that your whole life revolves around the child. Your mate or date can be given first place in your life and literally idolized. Your work can easily become your god . . . as can some pursuit in life. A house, a lawn, an antique, a car, a letter in sports, an education, a trip abroad, an achievement, and even that goal of “retirement” can so grip your heart that it becomes your Nehushtan.
Don’t miss my point. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of these good things. To possess them—any or all of them—is not sinful. But it is sinful when they possess us! Therein lies the difference. It’s that sort of thing that turns a golden dream into a hollow chunk of bronze.
Honestly now . . . can you testify to the fact that you’ve destroyed the idols? Can you really say you are free from bronze anchors? That Christ reigns without a rival? Or would you have to admit to a personal shrine in your inner temple where you privately burn incense?
“Where your treasure is,” says the Lord, “there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34), and “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 NIV). What does that actually mean? What you invest your time and treasure in, what you talk about, what you keep returning to in your mind reveals what’s really on your heart. It’s just that simple.
Your Lord and Savior wants to occupy first place. Matthew 6:33 says that when He has it, everything else “will be added to you.” How long has it been since you’ve enlisted your Lord’s help in a private, personal temple-cleansing session? It’s so easy to get attached to idols—good things, inappropriately adored. But when you have Jesus in the center of the room, everything else only junks up the decor.
“He is also head of the body, the church,” wrote Paul, “and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18).
Did you get that? First place in everything.