We don’t often use the word “idol” in normal conversation, unless we’re talking about a television talent show or an ancient people group. Still, idols exist in the twenty-first century. Generally, idols are good things that we have exalted to a higher place than God.
When my success means more to me than my relationship with God, I idolize success. If I value my children to the point of believing that I couldn’t live without them, my children are idols. Basically, anything that I decide I need for my life to work — apart from God — becomes my idol.
Jonah had decided that, more than anything else, he needed the bad guys to be punished. So, when God told him to go prophesy to Nineveh, Israel’s evil enemies, Jonah ran away.
You see, Jonah knew that God was merciful and gracious (Jonah 4:2). God’s abounding love seemed too big for Jonah. He wanted a god who showed compassion to his own people, Israel, but destroyed Israel’s adversaries. Fortunately, when God sent a great fish, Jonah realized that the god he wanted didn’t exist. His idol was worthless.
So, Jonah prayed to the one true God, who made the sea and the land. With his prayer, he reminded himself, and warned us, that idols keep us from experiencing God’s great love for us. Indeed, every thing or person that we idolize will prove worthless because only God can fulfil us. Only God can satisfy the longing of our souls.
Creator of heaven and earth, forgive me for putting people and things ahead of you. Help me to see the futility of trusting in anyone or anything — other than you — to give my life meaning. I now consciously turn away from worthless idols and toward you and your great love. Amen.
Go Deeper — What things do you have a tendency to “idolize” in your life? Will you let God’s loving perspective shine on them so you can see them as he does?
Read Further — Jonah learned he couldn’t manipulate God’s love. We can often do the same thing, asking God to mold his will to our own. This is an account of someone who learned about that tendency.
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