Idolatry is something we read about but don’t really think of in conjunction with our own modern lives. We automatically picture the golden calf of Moses’ time as the prime example, and we sigh with relief that we don’t do such foolish things.

I have news, beloved.

Not all idols are silver and gold.

For me, idolatry was recently exposed in the form of brotherly love.

Anything that becomes more important than the Lord is an idol. This can even take the form of seemingly benevolent things. I now believe this mask is the most common of all, for it is so much easier to deceive us when we think we’re doing something good.

Ten years ago I lost my brother in a car accident. His loss devastated me. Blinded by my grief, I saw nothing but the now-empty space in my life. I felt terribly alone without my brother, and I hated it.

Without even realizing it, I began to idolize the space in which he had once stood. I saw his position in my life as a place of honor. Not because of me, but because I had loved him so deeply.

Let me clarify a bit. Love is absolutely good. The Lord commands us to do everything in love. And I genuinely thought that I was loving others by bestowing the familial title of brother upon them. I thought, “I have a brother again. I have someone to love, because my real brother is gone.” It never occurred to me that something else was going on. I did not see that my definition of brotherly love had been skewed by my grief.

That place in my heart needs to be closed and stay closed. I need to allow myself to heal, finally and fully. The friends I called brothers, while they are family in Christ, are not able to stand in that space. They already have special places in my life that come with honor of their own.

I used people to fulfill an unhealthy desire. And I replaced a once-beautiful relationship with something false.

Worst of all, I gave that falsehood my worship, because I revered it so deeply.

“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love,” Jonah 2:8 (ESV).

I allowed the enemy to use my pain to try to steal the hope I have in Christ, which frankly makes me absolutely livid.

As I write I speak this aloud so any demons within hearing may hear: No one deserves my worship except Jesus Christ.

In Joshua 7, when Israel battled the Canaanites at Ai, 3,000 men died. Joshua appealed to the Lord only to discover they kept losing to their enemies because a man named Achan had been disobedient. The people had been commanded to leave all spoils of battle behind, yet Achan took some anyway and hid them in his tent, as though God wasn’t watching!

Achan valued gold and silver above the lives of everyone around him, and worse, above the commands given by God. It cost him everything in the end, including his life.  

So the question then becomes: What are our idols really worth?

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone….who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God,” Ephesians 5:5 (ESV).

Sometimes it’s easy to spot these idols. Achan’s were plain to see. Other times, as with mine, it’s not so simple. We have put on blinders that make it easy for the enemy to sneak in and get us all twisted up. That’s when we need to be absolutely honest with ourselves and with God.  

I urge you to look deep into your lives. If there is anything that is higher in your heart than your relationship with Christ, I urge you to let go of it. Let Christ take his rightful place on the throne of your heart and your life.

Take back your inheritance, your relationship with the Lord, and live!

Heather Gilmore

Author Heather Gilmore

Heather Gilmore grew up in upstate New York and now lives in Brooklyn Park, MN. Her degrees in intercultural studies and creative writing have helped develop her greatest passion - to use writing to help others see the beauty of Christ and his love for the world. She is the vice president of the Knights of the Quill Writing Society at North Hennepin Community College and is currently at work on a novel.

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