Serving the Lord and our own gods

Sam Petitfils

"They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought."  II Kings 17:33

When Israel lapsed into detestable idol worship, much of their worship remained the same.  They kept up appearances, the priests still offered up sacrifices, and the people went through all the motions.

Today, many people keep up appearances, too.  They attend church, and may even serve in a ministry.  But they also serve their own gods.  Does God accept their worship?  Quite clearly He does not.  He requires an undivided heart.  We are not to be friends with this world.  If we are, then we are an enemy of God (James 4:4).  These seem like tough words, but they come from God.  He expects pure hearts to come into His presence.

"But," someone may reply, "we don't bow to wooden idols."  That may be true, but who do you really serve?  In the closing verse of his first letter, the Apostle John warns his readers to "keep yourselves from idols."  We have many idols today.  We may not bow down before them in worship, but they consume our lives.  We give them our time and often our rapt attention.

But what makes it worse is we then decide to give God small tokens of worship.  We spend money and time on our pleasures, and then give to God the crumbs.  Is He pleased with this?  Read Malachi 1:6-9 where the people gave to God their least efforts, something their own earthly rulers would have rejected.  Many people think that they can "buy off God."  They do not live for Him during the week, but then attend church thinking that will pacify God.  But God wants our heart, all of it.

How then should we treat the things of this world?  Many things in the world are not sinful per se, but they can become stumbling blocks to our spiritual growth.  The Apostle Paul's rule of thumb was this:  Use the world, but do not become engrossed in it (Read I Corinthinans 7:31).

Finally, remember His worshipers will not be perfect, and we all fail.  But we should worship and serve Him with an undivided heart, and not try to please both God and our own idols.  That is a kind of worship God will not accept.

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