False Comforters, Gods, and Gumby
“Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up – make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God.” Deuteronomy 8:12-14 MSG
When my husband, Joe, called me from work to tell me that he just got a substantial raise in his salary, he couldn’t contain his joy and elation. He had been doing the work of ten men on his job for years, and this raise was a long time coming. That day, he had brought his Gumby toy figure to work with him, and he began joking that it was his new lucky charm, and that his raise was a result of Gumby’s mysterious power. Do you know who Gumby is? He is a green Claymation cartoon character from the 1950s and 60s, and he is very endearing to many of us who belong to the Baby Boomer generation.
I knew that it was only because of my husband’s excitement that he was joking about Gumby getting his raise for him. But I felt saddened at the time because I know that there are people who would give credit for their blessings to inanimate objects and other things that you and I would deem silly and nonsensical. The Bible calls these things that take the place of God in people’s hearts “idols.” In modern times, we tend to think of idols as only being like the golden calf that the Israelites crafted and worshiped in the desert after they left Egypt. But the truth is that an idol can be any person, thing, or activity that is more important to us than our relationship with God. An idol can be our work, our job, our ministry, or our career. Even our family or other relationships can become idols to us. These days, we see a lot of people whose idols are their pets. Even addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, or sex can become idols.
Before we got off the phone that day, I shared with my husband God’s words of warning from Deuteronomy. “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV) You see, the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He is painfully aware that when we succeed at something – especially if our success comes with recognition and reward – we will be tempted to forget that our success depends on God, and we’ll neglect to give Him the glory. But the Lord is dead serious about this sort of thing, and He tells us in the same passage: “If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 8:19 NIV)
While I’m tempted to laugh at the idea of someone making an idol out of Gumby, I can’t help thinking of God’s words about this subject. “To whom will you compare Me? Who is My equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.” (Isaiah 46:5-7 NLT) You and I can give credit to ourselves for our blessings. We can look to other people for satisfaction, recognition, and reward. We can depend on false comforters like drugs, drink, or food. But in the end, relying on anything or anyone other than God will ultimately leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled.
The Lord wants the best of our time and attention, and He deserves it. He wants to be our highest priority all the days of our lives. Why? “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” (Exodus 20:5 NLT) Like a loving spouse, God deeply desires our wholehearted devotion and unwavering loyalty. Ask Him to show you if there’s anything or anyone in your life that is competing with Him today.
Lord, I renounce idol worship of every kind, and I ask You to forgive me for putting anything or anyone above You. Reveal to me if I am robbing You of the attention and devotion You desire and deserve because my priorities are wrong. Help me to reorder and restructure my priorities according to Your perfect will. Work in my heart so that I will never allow anything or anyone to displace You from Your rightful place in my life. Thank You that as I love You, seek You, and serve You the way You desire and deserve, I will walk in the glorious freedom that Christ bought for me on the cross!
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