This is the second part of our discussion in idols of the heart. You can back up and go read or listen to part one on what idols are and how we create them. And today we are going to be discussing the more practical aspects of making idols in our hearts:
Listen to the podcast: I’ve recorded this blog post as an audio podcast. You can read it here, or if you prefer, listen to it as a podcast below! Enjoy!
How as a homemaker, as a wife, or as a mom am I placing idols in my life? Where am I focusing on and and what areas am I sinning in that displaces God from the ultimate spot in my heart and in my life? Today we are going to be discussing four main areas that idols creep up: in our homemaking, our marriage, our parenting, and our ministry.
“Idols aren’t just stone statues. No, idols are the thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God. Idols cause us to ignore the true God in search of what we think we need.” – Idols of the Heart, page 23
An example from Mary & Martha
We are going to look at a familiar passage of the Bible to help illustrate this. The story of Mary and Martha. We enter the scene in Luke 10 and we see Jesus lovingly teaching inside Mary & Martha’s home. Mary is sitting quietly as Jesus’ feet, soaking in his words, being near her savior. Meanwhile, Martha is busy preparing their home for all these extra guests! She’s running to and fro lighting fires, preparing meals, making beds, and more. She’s busy practically serving the Lord...
But suddenly, she realizes she is alone in the kitchen kneading the dough…where did her sister Mary go who is supposed to be helping to get dinner on the table? Martha becomes angry and asks Jesus to tell her lazy sister to help her! Jesus instead says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42
Ouch! How often have I been Martha? Running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to serve, get dinner on the table, read a book to my kids, spend quality time with my husband…and suddenly it all gets too much and I end up screaming at my kids to stop fighting?
I’m trying! I’m trying to serve Christ. I’m trying to serve my family. I’m trying to be that Proverbs 31 woman…and yet, I often end up placing an idol in my heart instead of what I should be doing. I’m focusing on all the active parts of getting the job done, so that my heart is no longer focused on Christ or serving Him out of a fierce love for God!
Here are several ways in which we can get so caught up in the details and activity of serving, that our hearts can be dislodged from focusing on what we really should be focusing on: God!
In our Homemaking
I want to focus on this one first because I think this has such a bearing on what we do every single day. Whether or not you work outside the home, whether or not you have kids, you have a house to manage. A home to run. Some sort of family of which you have some influence.
And it’s really really easy to turn our homemaking into an idol. It’s so easy to focusing on all the good things we want to learn and work on: from making our home more Gospel-Centered, to getting better at meal planning and tightening up our budget, to how to develop better routines and schedules, how to get the bathroom cleaner in less time, etc.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the details of our house and managing our home because these are the small details we live in every single day. We focus on organizing our morning well and sending the kids outside so play so we can finally mop the kitchen. Then not even 30 minutes later, the kids troop through the kitchen in their muddy shoes and ruin all of our hard work, even though they were warned countless times to go in through the back door and take their shoes off outside.
How easy is it in that moment to lose our tempter, to become angry, to become bitter, to get wrapped up in this ideal that we deserve a clean house, that we deserve order, that we deserve a calm and peaceful home? We deserve these things and we’ve worked too hard for them..and now I’m angry.
That my friends is making an idol out of our homemaking. How often does something like this happen? How often do we think we deserve things or get angry when things don’t go the way we plan. If I’m honest, it happens all the time. And the tricky part is that most of this happens without us thinking about it. We don’t often put it into words or terms like this, because then it would be easier to recognize it for the sin it is, but we let these thoughts, we let the anger bubble up quietly in the back of our minds until quickly we are focused on ourselves and what we deserve or need rather than focusing on earnestly loving and serving God.
In our marriages
Another area that this seems to play out in all the time is in our marriages. I know for many, there are a lot of wishes that go along with your marriage. You wish your husband paid more attention to you, or that he was more romantic. You wish he was a better spiritual leader, that he was more sensitive to your needs, or more sensitive to the kids. You wish he would go to church with you, and the list goes on.
These can all be good things to pray for, but these can quickly turn into idols within our hearts when we desire them too much or we sin when we don’t get them. Elyse shares this example:
“Give me a Godly Husband, or I’ll Die!
“Jenny believed that the only way for her to be happy was to have a godly husband. She was married to a Christian man who attended church with her, but she wanted a husband who would pray regularly with her and who would have devotions with the family. I agreed with her that it would have been a blessing for him to be a more godly leader. I tried to encourage him to find other men who might help in grow.
“As I got to know Jenny, I saw that her desire for a godly husband functioned like a god in her life. The thought I must have a godly husband or I’ll die! ruled her. Sometimes she thought that if she was extra nice and made him the dinner that he liked, he would be obliged to do what she wanted. On other days she would give up in frustration and anger, withholding herself from him and pouting. Like Rachel, she was convinced that she could not find happiness unless her expectations were met. A day came when she told me that she was going to leave him. She left him and the church, and the last I heard she was no longer following Christ. Like Rachel, her desire ended up destroying her.” – Idols of the Heart, page 24
Jenny was convinced that she wouldn’t be happy until her needs were met and her husband acted the way she thought he should or the way she thought she deserved. Again, the desire to see your husband be a spiritual leader in your home is a not a bad one, but when you desire that more than you desire God, you’ve created an idol out of a good thing.
In our parenting
There are a million and one things that can become idols for us when it comes to our kids. If we don’t have kids, then we might be making a huge idol out of the desire for kids. We can make idols out of wanting our kids to thrive and to be successful. We can make idols out of our kids loving and respecting us. We can make an idol out of others thinking we are good mothers or parents. We can make an idol out of being in control.
“As moms, finding our own idols can take some effort. Like weeds, they may have twisted themselves around our heart, burrowing down deep into the recesses and crevices. They may have become such a part of our heart that they we have trouble recognizing them.
We have to pray that God would reveal the idols in our heart and help us to see and recognize them. Sometimes it helps to be aware of our emotional responses to the circumstances in our life. How do we react when our children let us down? How do we respond when we don’t receive the affirmation from others that we desire? When God brings an idol to our attention, we have to humbly acknowledge our sin, repent, and turn away from them.” – Idols of a Mother’s Heart, Desiring God Blog
In our Ministry
As homemakers we have endless ministry opportunities around us. We can minister to our own families, we can practice hospitality and have ministry flowing out of our homes, we can be involved in children’s church or women’s ministry, support our husband’s ministries and partner with them, we can serve through an online ministry or blog, and the opportunities go on.
And within Ministry, you have a unique chance to create idols in your heart. This is where Martha’s story becomes personal for me. My husband and I run this ministry together full time. Our entire lives and livelihood revolve around ministry. We live, think, and breathe our ministry. And this means an idol is easy to form out of our ministry because we spend so much time, love, and attention on it.
It’s so easy to make things about the production, about getting more podcasts written, more work done, more things produced. It’s in the name of Jesus, but it’s easy to let the work itself become the focus instead of the end goal: to love God and to serve him! And I know I’m not alone in this temptation, Elyse shares:
“I’m involved in Christian ministry on a pretty regular basis. But the question that I am continually forced to ask myself is, How much time am I spending at His feet? How much time do I spend on the one needful thing? I’m not talking about prep time for my ministry opportunities – I’m talking about time sitting at His feet, worshipping Him. It’s true…I’m just like Martha. I have strong competing loves in my heart. Yes, I love God, but I’m a little busy working for Him right now…so I’ll spend time with Him later.
Even in my Christian ministry responsibilities, it’s possible for me to worship gods of my own making…gods of my reputation, my plans for the day, my ideas. It’s easy to get so frustrated and caught up in serving the Lord that I forget to love and worship him. It’s during those times that I begin to think, like Martha, that God doesn’t care about me. The truth about His love and sacrificial care is clouded by my plans and desires.” – Idols of the Heart, pages 32-33
Hope & Encouragement
So what’s my point with all of this? It’s all about our heart focus. We can strive in our lives for so many good and worthwhile things, but it’s all useless and in vain without our hearts focused on loving God and knowing Him more. How do we kill the idols in our hearts?
By focusing on God more and more.
Tim Keller wrote a great quick book called Counterfeit Gods and in it he says,
“Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.
We must root out the idols and then quickly fill that hole left in our hearts and our minds with God. The best way to do this is by regularly being in God’s Word. Studying his Word, applying it to our lives, memorizing Scripture, praying more and focusing on God.”
I want to encourage you that if you are feeling overwhelmed, that you start working now on that habit of daily Bible reading. I know the idea of getting rid of your idols and simply focusing on God more isn’t always that simple. So the best thing to do is be in God’s word more consistently.
If you need help with that, I want to direct you to episode #25 of my podcast. In it, I share some tips and tricks for developing the habit of daily bible reading and for going deeper.
Resource of the Week:
Finding Joy in Your Home free course
In last week’s episode I shared about the book Idols of the Heart as the book of the week. and since that’s still my recommendation that fits well today, I wanted to share another handy resource for you that happens to be FREE! It’s called Finding Joy in Your Home – Essential Habits for Christian Homemakers.
It’s a 5 part video course that’s totally free to go through and it covers setting the atmosphere in your home, developing a morning and evening routine, cultivating the daily habits of bible reading and prayer, rooting our homes in the gospel, and cultivating more joy in our homes. If you haven’t signed up yet for this free course, I highly encourage you to do so! We’ve had almost 4,000 women go through this course so hop on over and join us!!
Links mentioned in today’s episode:
- My brand new VIDEO podcast: YWG tv
- Sign up to get notified about: 2016 Homemaking Ministries Online Conference
- Hf #45: Idols of the Heart and Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus
- Book Recommendation: Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- The Idols of a Mother’s Heart – Desiring God Blog
- Book Recommendation: Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
- Hf #25: Developing the Habit of Daily Bible Reading
- Homemaking Foundations Podcast on iTunes