But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Rev 2:4
Our closest friends were moving to a new development and convinced us we should join them. It was going to be a beautiful subdivision with great security. My wife and I had never built a house from scratch. We poured ourselves into the planning and it soon took over our hearts. The Long hours with the architect; decision after decision, just the way we had dreamed a house should be. Years before this we had promised the Lord that we would never spend more money on a house than we could gain from the sale of our present home. We were up front with the architect and he was convinced we could stay within our cost guidelines, until the plans were completed and we took it to the builder. Here was our dream home and here was our promise. Where was our heart?
The Old Testament talks a great deal about idols, but finally boils it down to anything that steals our heart away from God. So many possessions, experiences and relationships in this world compete with God for our hearts. We are often caught at a decision crossroad looking both ways with longing.
I suspect these heart-rending crossroads will be part of our lives repeatedly until we leave our natural bodies for Heaven. My personal desires in this life have frequently led me away from full devotion to my Creator, causing me to break God’s commandments and waste time in their service, leading me to sins of both commission and omission. They make me act wrongly by first making me love wrongly. In fact, the way to determine whether a desire in this life is legitimate or is an idol is whether it turns us toward or away from our first love, Jesus Christ.
If we could view our idols objectively, one real problem is that idols break their promises. They often promise us the world, but always deliver far less. Tim Keller in his book, Counterfeit Gods, looks back at Jacob’s great love for Rachel. We recall Jacob’s seven long years of service to gain Rachel as his wife and then recall Laban’s treachery when Jacob woke to find that he had married the sister, Leah, instead. (Gen 29). Tim Keller describes our desire for idols to be much like Jacob’s overwhelming desire for Rachel. [paraphrase] “No person, experience, possession, not even the best one, can give your soul all it needs. If you pursue anything with all your heart, other than God, you are going to think you have gone to bed with Rachel; but when you wake up, it will always be Leah.”
What am I giving my heart to this week? Is it turning me toward or away from my First Love? How long before I wake up to its false promises?
Not self-fulfillment, but Christ fulfillment. Take my heart and protect it from the longings of this world, unless those longings lead me closer to you.