Yesterday, we looked at some of the idols in our lives that are fairly easy to tear down, for when they come up against the truth of God, they don't stand a chance. These idols are often external to us - they are ideas outside of ourselves that we are convinced somewhere, somehow to buy into.
What's more difficult are the idols that set up in our hearts. These internal idols, we often don't realize are distractions to our true worship. In fact, we often think they are an integral part of it.
That's because these idols are often rooted in some kind of truth, but that truth gets corrupted to the point that it's hard for us to tell what is truly good and what isn't.
We're talking about things here like the things that often lead us to say stuff like, "That's just who I am" and "If you can't handle that, then you can't handle me" and "I'm not going to apologize for who I am." We even go so far as to say, "This is how God made me."
We can recognize these kinds of idols when we find ourselves starting to offer a ton of justifications for our behavior or our thought processes. It's a bit messy because often, our justifications have to do with "God," but it's not quite as clear-cut as it seems.
God can make you confident, but He never makes you obstinate. So the minute you're claiming your confidence in God as a reason to no longer have to listen to anyone else, what you have in your heart is not holy.
God can make you generous and self-sacrificing, but He never makes you self-ruining. So when you try to give out of an empty place, that's not God. And He never makes you indispensable. So the moment you think that whatever you're doing can't be done without you, even if it's because you're serving God in that place, then what you have in your heart is not holy.
God can make you gifted, but He never makes you arrogant. So the minute you start boasting in your gifts and not the Gift Giver, what you have in your heart is not holy.
God can make you compassionate and encouraging and a tremendous gift to those around you, but when you start receiving your affirmations from those you're blessing instead of the One who has blessed you, what you have in your heart is not holy.
See? It's tough. These are good things, all of them. Every single one of these things, and so many more, are gifts from God. But the minute that we start thinking they are our gifts and not His, they become something less than holy. They become, honestly, profane.
These idols are harder to defeat in our lives because they seem like such good things, because they are rooted in a nugget of truth that is God's truth. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are a blessing. You have every reason to be confident. You have every grace to be generous. All of these things are true, and they are things that God has put in your heart for a reason. They make you who you are.
But being who you are can't make you arrogant about your self. It can't make you unmovable or unchanging. It can't make you unapologetic. That's, maybe, the best way to see where the idols in our lives are. When something that we do or a certain way that we behave or however we try to love in the world hurts someone, causes offense, or creates greater distress than we walked into, if we are unapologetic about the way our lives have impacted someone else, then what we have in our hearts is an idol. If our gut reaction is to say, "Well, that's just who I am" or "You just can't handle me" or whatever, then what we have is not holy, and it needs to be torn down. I don't care what nugget of truth it seems to be standing on.
And there is yet one more idol of our hearts that we must be wary of, that we must constantly be on guard against. This one is maybe tougher still. What is it? We'll talk about that tomorrow.