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Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.1 John 5:21

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.1 Cor. 10:14

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.Jonah 2:8

     Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures about idolatry cause me pause and drive me to the resources of the gospel today. Idolatry is everywhere because there’s no such thing as a non-worshiper.

In Rome, I’ve seen statues of the various gods that filled the temples and lifestyle of that great ancient city. In London, I visited the biggest Hindu temple in the city and wandered from station to station as worshipers offered prayers and gifts to deities that looked so strange to me. In Israel, I photographed decaying remains of various idols—constant competition for the worship of the people of God.

Yet for me to obey the commands to “keep myself from idols” and to “flee idolatry”, requires much more than simply staying away from ancient sites, pagan temples, and man-made idols. Father, I’ve never been more aware of the invisible pantheon clamoring for my heart’s worship and trust. How I wish that as soon as you placed me in Christ my struggle with idolatry would have ceased. That’s simply not the case, or these Scriptures would be entirely irrelevant.

Sometimes the praise, or disdain, of people has more sway over my heart than what you think about me. Sometimes my need to be right is more compelling to me than being righteous in Christ. Sometimes my desire to be in control of people and circumstances claims more of my time and energy than seeking your face, savoring your grace, and serving your Son—the true King. These are just a few of the things bearing the marks of idolatry in my heart.

Have mercy on me, Father, and free my foolish heart from giving anything or anyonethe attention, allegiance, affection, and adoration you alone deserve. Make Jesus so beautiful and the love of Christ so compelling to me that my struggle with idolatry will diminish in intensity.

The fact that I’m one of your “dear children”—forgiven, secure, righteous, and beloved in Christ—should be all the motivation I need to keep myself from any form of idolatry. May the gospel of your grace relentlessly expose and dethrone all “empty nothings” from my heart. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ most worthy and loving name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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