Be kinder to yourself.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.
This verse comes from the chapter in Exodus where Moses goes up Mount Sinai for the second copy of the Covenant, or the Ten Commandments. God speaks directly to Moses and explicitly instructs him on the terms of the covenant, in which worshiping other gods, including those of molten metal, is strictly forbidden.
I read this verse a few weeks ago, then I went back to read the entire chapter, and I thought to myself: we really don’t see too many molten gods or other physical idols threatening the Christian today. When I think of idols I associate statues of saints or gods from other religions, images that are supposed to represent Christ, the horoscope and tarot reading, and of course worshiping other gods. These are associations that formed as a result of growing up Catholic, and as someone who really enjoyed reading the horoscope, and then hearing different criticisms and theories about why these were all a form of idolatry.
However, more recently I started to think about the ways I could be erecting other idols in my life. The word Idol has several definitions including: a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered; an object of worship. And my favorite definition of the word idolatry is immoderate attachment or devotion to something. What these word meanings tell me is that anything or anyone that receives more of my love, devotion, and attachment over God--is an idol, or another god in my life.
This form of idolatry can manifest itself in the form of focusing on career advancement (a title); material possessions, including, but not limited to: clothes, gadgets, money, and cars; or reputation--caring more about people’s opinions over God’s opinion of me. I can definitely say that social media became an idol a few times in my life. I spent more time scrolling and networking than I did praying and studying God’s word. But the real conviction that occurred was when I realized that relationships and acceptance have been idols/gods in my life for a very long time.
When I would read the Ten Commandments I would breeze over “have no other gods before me” because I was certain that I didn’t. But when I read this chapter from Exodus--specifically this verse in which God, Himself is describing His very name as Jealous and then says that He is jealous about His relationship with me, I realized that just like I have often spent more time devoted to my phone and my social media accounts, I have spent so much time attaching myself to other people and not to God. Relationships and being accepted and loved by people became so important to me that it made me desperate to be in relationship with others--both romantic and platonic. Time alone, or time alone with God was not something I desired. In fact, any time I found myself alone, I would describe as depressing and uncomfortable. I worshiped being accepted, being in constant communication, and being in happy relationships with anyone but God.
Admitting my idolatry makes me cringe, but it also breaks my heart to know that God is jealous for me, yet I repeatedly chose others over Him... Do you think you may have erected some modern day idols in your life? If you do identify some habits, things, or people that receive more devotion and admiration from you than God does, don’t be afraid to admit it, or heartbroken when you do. Because through the conviction and guilt, remember that God is still jealous for you. You’ve had His attention the entire time, and when you’re ready to turn your face to His and devote time, energy and reverence to Him again, He will accept you with grace. When Moses came down from the mountain after forty days of communion with God, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he has spoken to the Lord (Exodus 34:29). When we give God the devotion He is worthy of, when we reverence Him as holy, and when we love and admire Him above all else through our actions, He will change us in ways that we will not even be aware of until others point it out. He will make us radiant!
Dear Heavenly Father,
The God of compassion and mercy! You are slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness... Thank you for desiring a relationship with me. Forgive me for placing other gods before you. Help me to identify those habits, things, and people in my life that have taken your place. Help me to limit my time and attention to those things, and guide me back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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