“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21; (NASB)
Stop for a moment and consider this question. What is the most important thing in your life? Some will say their spouse, some their children or grandchildren, others their family in general. Some say their career or success, some their pet and others some inanimate object such as a car or house. Still others will claim their intellect or talents are their most valued things. Of course, when two or more Christians are together in a Bible study or when you’re talking with your pastor, the answer might be a little different. But even then, many times God is considered only after the first answer is challenged.
At the time John wrote today’s verse the practice of worshiping man-made idols was relatively commonplace among unbelievers. Today it is not as common for people to worship man-made statues of mystical gods or animals as it once was, although it still exists. That doesn’t mean idol worship has become less common. In fact, it can make a good argument that idol worship is worse today than it was in John’s time. Back then the worship of something was a purposeful act directed at a powerful being that was believed to occupy the statues or animals they were worshiping. Although the objects of their worship were misplaced, they were at least acknowledging that there was a divine entity that controlled things from a spiritual realm they could not fully understand.
For many today, idols are not things we consider powerful or divine, they have become our idols because of the importance we place on them. We worship ourselves and our pleasures more than Jesus. Be honest, what would make you the angriest or saddest if it were taken from you, or you could no longer do it? Whatever has that position in your life, if it is not God, is your idol. You may not worship whatever it is by bowing before it, but if it has the bulk of your daily attention, then it is possibly an idol. Would you feel as bad about not praying or going to church for the next six months as you would not being able to see your spouse or children for that time? What about your smartphone? Would you even hear God if He was asking you to fast from social media for forty days? I’m not saying that missing your family or social media is wrong. I’m asking which is more important, your relationship with God or your personal needs.
The fact is, God should be the most important thing in your life. Anything you consider more important than God in your life is an idol. The Apostle John is telling us to guard ourselves from idols. It doesn’t mean we eliminate everything other than God. It means that we must keep God first in our lives, above all else.
Have a great week and God bless.