The apostle John wrote, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
In a loving and pastoral way, John encouraged us not to ruin ourselves by replacing God on the thrones of our lives with something else, something less. In our sinfulness, we are prone to wander, prone to leave the God we love, prone to idols.
God, in His great love, is jealous for our affection and attention. And it is good for us that He is jealous because only He can quench our souls. If He didn’t discipline us, didn’t pull us back to Himself, didn’t grab our attention, He would be allowing us to wallow in something less glorious, something less satisfying.
In a sermon on the jealousy of God and God’s commitment to discipline us when we wander, Charles Spurgeon declared:
Even believers may be reproved on this subject. God is very jealous of his deity in the hearts of his own people.
Mother, what will he say of you, if that darling child occupies a more prominent place in your love than your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Husband, what shall he say to you, and with what stripes shall he smite you, when your wife reigns as a goddess in your spirit?
And wife, thou shouldest love thy husband—thou doest well in so doing; but if thou exaltest him above God, if thou makest him to have dominion over thy conscience, and art willing to forsake thy Lord to please him, then thou hast made to thyself another god, and God is jealous with thee…
We are permitted to take solace in each other, but when we carry love to idolatry, and put the creature into the Creator’s place, and rebel, and fret, and bitterly repine, then the Lord hath a rod in his hand, and he will make us feel its weight, for he is a jealous God.
I fear there are some believers who put their house, their garden, their business, their skill, I know not what, at seasons into the place of God. It were not consistent with the life of godliness for a man to be perpetually an idolater, but even true believers will sometimes be overcome with this sin, and will have to mourn over it.
May God grant us the grace to mourn over our idolatry and to keep ourselves from idols.