Keep Yourselves from Idols

Kevin Ibanez

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols."  I John 5:21

This past Sunday, September 7, 2014, millions of American men, women and children let out a collective whoop all around our country (and even all around our world) when one of their favorite pastimes started up again. The National Football League officially kicked off a new season and for many of us who are fans, everything is good once again.

For many football widows and those who do not care for football, it’s that time of the year when many of the people you love spend hours glued to their television sets watching grown men in tights running full speed at each other, punishing their bodies as they chase around a one pound, egg-shaped, brown leather ball and getting paid millions of dollars to do this.

American Football. Every week, millions of us watch it, millions of us have played it growing up, and millions play it now at the elementary, middle school, high school and college level; and even though many of us do not see it or would be willing to admit it, millions of us worship it too.

This past week during my devotional time, I read through the book of 1 John. I love reading 1 John; it is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. I have read it many times over the years, but this time, I know that the Holy Spirit wanted me to notice the last verse in the entire book.

1 John 5:21 says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” It seems like such an odd verse, as if it were an afterthought, an almost P.S. that John quickly tacked on to the end of his letter. We know that all scripture is inspired and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16), so there was a purpose for this small, easily overlooked verse at the end of 1 John. John was reminding us that we must keep first things first. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all of heart, mind, soul and strength (Luke 10:27).  Many of us would say, “amen” to this verse and pay it lip service, but in actuality, we worship football, or food, or money, or careers, or (fill in the blank).

John Calvin, the great reformer and one of the spiritual fathers of the Christian church, said, "The human heart is an idol factory...Every one of us from our mother’s womb is an expert in inventing idols." You see ,the Apostle John hit it right on the head with this little, yet pithy verse. We must constantly be checking our hearts to see if we are truly worshipping God, or someone or something else.

Please do not misunderstand me. I enjoy football, food, my career and many other things, but if and when I put them before God, then that is when I am in sin and God, being a good and jealous God, will smash that idol, and in the process of taking it away, help me refocus on Him.

So my question to you is, “How are you doing with keeping God first in your life and keeping yourself from worshipping the idols of this world? If you are willing to admit that you are not putting God first right now, then repent and set your heart and mind on God.

If you are not struggling with this right now, then praise God, but do not let your guard down because our hearts can so easily stray towards idolatry. Keep God first, and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

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