Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
Idols? You mean like the golden calf the people of Israel worshiped? Elvis? Nothing like these in my life, so I can check the box and move on. This was my thinking early in my walk with Christ. Idols are things people love and worship who should know better. Not me. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I choose to worship Him. As I came to understand, dedicated followers of Jesus can have things in our life we choose to care about and rely on more than God. From his book God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Tim Keller gives us guidance from a well-known passage in God’s Word.
Proverbs chapter 3 lists six things that can serve as the marks of a wise person and at the same time are the means for growing in wisdom. The first is trust in the Lord. You can believe in God yet still trust something else for your real significance and happiness-which is therefore your real God. We hide how we do this from ourselves, and it is only when something goes wrong with, say, your career or your family, that you realize it is much more to you than the Lord himself.
What does this have to do with wisdom? Everything. There are excessive emotions surrounding things you make the functional trust of your heart, your career, wealth, spouse, children, or some romantic relationship. You will be inordinately shaken, anxious, angry, or despondent if anything threatens them. They cloud your judgement, distort your vision of yourself and the world. Idolatries of the heart lead to foolishness in in the life. The ultimate remedy for idolatry is the gospel. We won’t need to justify ourselves by works-by success or romance or achievement-if we are freely justified by faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-24.
What is the best candidate in your life for an alternate “god”?