Your Golden Calf

Abed_nego2

Servant of the Lord
Exodus 20:2-3, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me”
Ezekiel 14:3, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts”
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What is idolatry? In reality, idolatry goes much deeper than just bowing down or praying to a statue. An idol is anything apart from God that we set our hearts on for fulfillment, security or happiness. In short it’s anything that we pursue and trust more than God. So, what does the sin of idolatry or the modern day golden calf look like? Let’s look at the Israelites from the Old Testament. God performed a series of incredible miracles, rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and then parted the Red Sea so they could escape Pharaoh’s army. But their memories were so short that when Moses went up on a mountain to talk with God, they built a golden calf and started worshiping it. Imagine believing that a man-made pile of shiny metal could fulfill any of their needs!

Today we call them cars, notebook computers, cell phones, big screen TV’s, fashion, relationships, jobs, and even another person. Joseph Goebbels scorned his religious upbringing that taught him about Christ. He later remarked, “It is almost immaterial what we believe so long as we believe in something.” For Goebbels that something was really someone. None other than the murderous Adolf Hitler became Goebbels’ God-substitute. When Hitler was finally trapped and defeated, Goebbels killed himself and his family. When we have a substitute God the only way out is coming to our senses and returning back to the one true God.

I believe Jesus was talking about all of us in his parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32. The son, who turned independence and enjoyment into his golden calf, he finally came to his senses and returned to his father’s house. In verse 20 we see one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” This my friend, is the kind of God we worship and how foolish to choose any other kind of golden calf over His amazing and unconditional love.
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Closing thoughts:

The wife of a missionary was concerned about the growth of materialism in society. It never crossed her mind that she could become materialistic. After all, she had gone overseas with almost nothing and living in a old, shabbily furnished, and rundown apartment? She thought materialism couldn’t touch her. Nonetheless, feeling of discontent gradually began to take root in her heart. Before long she was craving nice things and secretly feeling resentful over not having them. Then one day God’s Spirit opened her eyes with a disturbing insight, “Materialism isn’t necessarily having things; it can also be craving them. There she stood, guilty of materialism!” The Lord had exposed her discontentment for what it really was, an idol in her heart, that had become her golden calf.

That day as she repented of this subtle sin, God recaptured her heart as His rightful throne. Needless to say, a deep contentment followed, based not on things but on Him. In Ezekiel’s day, the Lord exposed the idolatry in the hearts of His people (Ezekiel 14:3-7). God also spoke to the people of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “My people have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have made broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). They had turned from the one true God to worthless God-substitutes. My friend and brethren, today God longs for each of us to rid our hearts of anything that destroys our relationship with Him. Only He can satisfy the deepest needs of our heart and make us truly alive. That’s why we would be wise to heed the loving counsel of the apostle Paul when he said, “My beloved, flee from idolatry.” The question then remains:

(1) What is your golden calf?
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An idol is anything that takes God’s rightful place in our heart.
 

Andy C

Well-Known Member
What is idolatry? In reality, idolatry goes much deeper than just bowing down or praying to a statue. An idol is anything apart from God that we set our hearts on for fulfillment, security or happiness. In short it’s anything that we pursue and trust more than God.
Desiring to have a nicer car or home is not IMO idolatry. I have yet to meet a Christian whose desire for something nice, meant they were turning to an object for security or happinees as a replacement for God.
 

Spartan Sprinter 1

Formerly known as Shaun
Since nobody has commented since I made this post….Did I miss the mark with my post?
I don't think so, to me this article is only applicable of being an idol if these things take a higher priority over your fellowship or worship of God.

If i was living in a dump, and i wanted a better house where there weren't any roaches crawlin around and the appliances worked properly, is that so wrong ?

To me it isn't LOL
 

Tall Timbers

Imperfect but forgiven
Since nobody has commented since I made this post….Did I miss the mark with my post?

I don't think you missed the mark, but it's probably a little more complicated than that. It all depends on what's going on inside an individual's mind. When I was younger I bought used vehicles and worked on them myself. I rented rooms as opposed to buying a house or having my own apartment. I scrimped and saved and lived way below my means. It never bothered me that peers had way nicer things than I did. When I bought my first house I was able to pay cash for it. I was around 30-31 years old. It was an okay 3 bedroom 1 bath house with an attached garage. The total sq feet of the living area was about 2/3s of my current garage.

Later I purchased 10 acres of forested land and when I was close to retirement I commissioned a general contractor and log home builder to build me my retirement home. It was expensive but within my means at the time as the Lord had blessed me with a good financial mind. It was a house that we turned in to a home and it is where we raised our four children. While I loved it here I don't think I ever had an unhealthy attachment, and despite my blessings, I'm not really attracted to worldly things.

After I got married I started buying new cars most of the time because I no longer had time to work on them myself and vehicles were changing and there was less and less that the garage mechanic could do. Somewhere along the way we started taking our vehicles in to service to Techs as opposed to mechanics, things had changed so much. I started out purchasing sub compact no frills vehicles, but as the family grew, so did the vehicles. Now when I purchase a vehicle, I add just about everything they offer except for a moon roof. I'm old and aching and I want comfort and I want all the safety gadgets that are offered because while I trust myself driving all those safety gadgets will hopefully keep me and those around me safe.

I guess if I was purchasing things to impress others or out of idolizing the worldly property, I'd be driving a convertible high end Mercedes in the summer time, pearl white with a white interior, instead of my current Bronco Sport, and I'd of kept my old 1999 Ford F-250 with the 7.3l diesel which was one impressive truck. Doubt I'll ever own another truck as good as those ones were (I had two).
 

UntilTheWholeWorldHears

Well-Known Member
There’s lots of stuff I like, lots of things I “love”. However, as I go about my busy day, it doesn’t take long for me to meditate on God, His word. He’s in the mist of my day!
Of course I want things, nice thing too, but here’s the deal. I don’t get my worth from any of those “nice things “ A really, really cold beer and pizza makes me happy.
 

Wally

Choose your words carefully...
Its not having things that is the problem, its how does it affect my walk with Christ?

If we run to anyone/anything but Christ for confidence,
if we are trusting some good-luck charm to save us,
if we find our peace in someone/something instead of seeking Christ's peace,
We probably have an idol to deal with.

I don't think I have idols. I know the stuff we have can disappear in a fire overnight, Thieves, storms, all kinds of perils exist.
Not doubt I would feel bad if some tragedy destroyed my home and possessions.
And of course we try to take care of our stuff and enjoy it,
but we must not cling to it.

If you live in fear of loosing your stuff, I'd say you may have a serious problem. Pray and ask God to help you.

Yet sometimes its a bit more subtle.

I have typically had old used vehicles. Currently I have a pickup with 210K+ miles on it. Parts wear out, frame rusts, things break. And they get fixed, by self or mechanic.

However when it does break down, I don't feel good. I get anxious, depressed. I mean its a truck, and although replacing it with something newer $$$$$ is not possible,
things can get fixed, why do I feel so bad?

I feel ashamed about that. I don't worship my vehicle, but I cannot bike 20+ miles to work. I trust the Lord, but not the dealer to get the parts quickly.
I thank God for His Provision - I can use wife's vehicle in the mean time, ... but will it get fixed and but once fixed, how long 'til it breaks again?

Perhaps the refreshing thing is Prayer always comes around. The trials keep me in contact with the only One who can answer prayer.
And even a simple thing like transport is not a problem for Him.

When stuff breaks our trust in Him, that is where we venture into faithlessness. But remember God cannot be faithless. It is against His nature.
And I'm convinced He uses stuff to teach us and help us grow. We'd never know how to manage if we had nothing to manage.

So look at your stuff and how it effects you. If you're hording and not trusting, if you are avoiding other responsibilities to get that delectable that has caught your eye, if you are taking from others to satisfy your self, there may very well be a problem.

And if you have asked for help, and God has answered with difficult solutions, learn from others who had stuff problems, like Nebuchadnezzar, Ananias and Saphira, King David, it may not be easy but its worth doing things His way.

And you will find His peace and the ability to manage your stuff the way He desires you to do.
 

Everlasting Life

Through Faith in Jesus
Obviously we do have to live here on earth and as such have basic needs that have to be met. And, we also have things we certainly enjoy and desire. I love how Jesus and the New Testament speaks on coming to the Father for those things as He is a giver of good gifts, according to His will and our good. While I don't think it's good to tag ourselves as idol worshipers where it just isn't so, it's also a good idea to do a heart check on whether one might be looking and trusting something or someone else more than God. Given the propensity of humans to do this, taking inventory is a good idea as the heart can be quite deceptive.

But, pray on these things that the Lord will guard from unnecessary guilt that our enemy would love to put on us and instead that the Lord would gently show us where He sees a misplaced trust in our lives other than God.

Here's the thing, when Israel moved into idolatry, it always robbed them of the very best. The incredible good and blessings that God desired for them was truncated and instead they miserably suffered. But, when they responded to God's grace and mercy to draw their hearts back to Him in looking to Him for their needs, they not only were blessed with their met needs but blessed above and beyond (that's not to mean that as a Christian we don't suffer at times for God's own purposes, however). So, as I read about Israel, I see that God desires my greatest good and I want to be responsive to the Holy Spirit where there might be a truncating of God's best for me in my life via looking to anything or trusting anyone more than God.....who can provide or direct to the best for me.


In short it’s anything that we pursue and trust more than God.

This sentence above is something I like to ask myself regularly......am I trusting anything more than God in this situation? At times I find that, out of fear, I'll default to things I've trusted in the past (that actually are inadequate), forgetting to go to God first and remembering that He's always faithful. Not to give in to the temptation of despair or hopelessness (a challenge I have to guard against). And, to be careful to not look to those tools or people that God uses for good in my life as my source of trust but to remember that God is my source to trust and as a result, He's behind the good tools and people in my life. It can be easy for me to slip into that mode of looking at what I see more than what I don't see, our invisible (to us), powerful Lord.

It all depends on what's going on inside an individual's mind.

Yes, I think you are right on this TT.
 

Abed_nego2

Servant of the Lord
I agree with what Tall Timbers said in his reply, “I don't think you missed the mark, but it's probably a little more complicated than that. “It all depends on what's going on inside an individual's mind”.
__________

Wally’s reply was spot when he said, “Its not having things that is the problem, its how does it affect my walk with Christ?

If we run to anyone/anything but Christ for confidence,
if we are trusting some good-luck charm to save us,
if we find our peace in someone/something instead of seeking Christ's peace,
We probably have an idol to deal with”; and

“So look at your stuff and how it effects you. If you're hording and not trusting, if you are avoiding other responsibilities to get that delectable that has caught your eye, if you are taking from others to satisfy your self, there may very well be a problem.”
__________

I also agree with Everlasting Life reply, “ Obviously we do have to live here on earth and as such have basic needs that have to be met. And, we also have things we certainly enjoy and desire. I love how Jesus and the New Testament speaks on coming to the Father for those things as He is a giver of good gifts, according to His will and our good. While I don't think it's good to tag ourselves as idol worshipers where it just isn't so, it's also a good idea to do a heart check on whether one might be looking and trusting something or someone else more than God. Given the propensity of humans to do this, taking inventory is a good idea as the heart can be quite deceptive.

But, pray on these things that the Lord will guard from unnecessary guilt that our enemy would love to put on us and instead that the Lord would gently show us where He sees a misplaced trust in our lives other than God.
__________

A. W. Tozer said this, “An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand”.
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Only the Lord knows the thoughts and heart of his children. Ezekiel 14:3 put it this way when God told him, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts”
 

JamesSuth

Well-Known Member
Some really insightful comments on here. I agree with what others have said, it is what is in our hearts not what we have that could be the problem. Like in the opening post, the woman had made an idol of things she didn't have. Although even desiring better things in itself is not a problem it is when they become more important than God.

I think I had a lot of idols in my life earlier on, and in my early days as a Christian. The more I've grown with Christ, the less they feature. God has given me so much now, materially, relationally, and in life, but these things have never meant less to me. I mean, I'm very grateful for everything God has given to me, but they also don't mean that much if it make sense?

Often I find myself worshipping God as the result of things, rather than idolising them. For example, in the past I might see some even event and really enjoy it. Now, I find myself (it is not even consciously) seeing some event and saying wow, and aren't you amazing, Lord, in response to what I see. Or in the past I may have desired certain cars, now I have a really nice car, but I just find myself being really grateful to God, and honouring Him by enjoying it and all He has provided.

I think a Christian can live a very wealthy life and not go anywhere near idolatry. And I think that is an important message for us to have and share because the world (well the one I inhabit) and the socialist church are now in love with the idea that having money and wealth is sinful, while all the time being the most material and greedy people you can imagine. Perhaps in some cultures there is a witness in living simply and contented. I think in our European culture there is a witness in living in luxury and still honouring God.
 

Wally

Choose your words carefully...
I think of Solomon's words:

ECC 9 HCSB
7 Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. 8 Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting[c] life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. 10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

ECC 12
12 But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. 13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.



We are to be sober, thankful, industrious, and submitting to God. He gave us a life to enjoy - Under the Son.
 

JoyJoyJoy

I Shall Not Be Moved
ECC 9 HCSB
7 Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. 8 Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting[c] life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. 10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.
I love this. I read of people who are weary of waiting for His return. He gave us this life and I think we should be thankful and live it to the best of our ability. God is so good to us, especially those of us on this board who live in prosperity compared to much of the world. Praise God.
 
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