It’s hard to give something up when you’re not convinced that it needs to go.
Looking at the consequences of idolatry is one way we can convince ourselves. We’ll do that today by comparing the consequences of having an affair with the consequences of having an idol.
Consequences of an Affair
1. Affairs hurt innocent people.
One of the worst consequences of affairs is that they hurt innocent people. The kids and spouse especially, but also the people who know the couple.
The same is true when we have an idol. We spend so much time pursuing our idol that we hurt the people we love by ignoring them. If our idols are those people, we hurt them by being clingy, demanding, and overly protective.
Question for journal: Who, if anyone, are you hurting by the pursuit of your idol? How are you hurting them?
2. Affairs hurt the innocent spouse.
This is an obvious consequence. Affairs devastate the innocent husband or wife involved. What isn’t so obvious is how our idolatry hurts God.
He is our Father, our Bridegroom, our Comforter, and our Rock. When we reject Him in favor of our idol, He doesn’t say, “Oh well, I wasn’t all that crazy about you anyway.” He suffers.
Question for journal: How does God feel when He sees you regularly going to your idol for help rather than Him? (For a full picture, read the book of Hosea or the first few chapters of Jeremiah. For a short snippet, see Hosea 11.)
3. Affairs hurt the people having them.
Through the years I’ve known several people who have had affairs. And although the affairs were rewarding in various ways, the people involved always suffered.
One lost his wife (whom he loved). One lost his church. Several had kids who walked away from God. And one suffered clinical depression from the guilt.
If you’re married and attracted to someone other than your spouse, all you need to do to get un-attracted is to fully imagine the consequences if your attraction were to run its full course. No affair is worth the consequences.
The same is true when we’re unfaithful to God. Spend some time thinking about the consequences of idolatry, and it will make you want to give up your idol. (Note: I’m not suggesting you give up relationships and ministry if they’re idolatrous – just that you stop making them idols.)
Question for journal: How is your idol hurting you a) physically, b) emotionally, and c) spiritually? Describe life with your idol on the throne. Describe life with your idol in its rightful place. Overall, is it adding to your life or taking away from it?
4. Affairs hurt the relationship.
When a woman (or a man) has an affair, she’s essentially saying, “My needs are more important than yours–and I need someone who will love me the way I want to be loved.” It’s a selfish love.
So is idolatry. Except it’s even worse because it’s God we’re talking about. The King of the Universe. Rather than lifting Him up, we’re lifting ourselves up. Refusing to give up our idol, we stand there and say, “No, God, I need this to be happy. Can’t you see? I have to have it.”
The problem with both affairs and idolatry is that all of of these thoughts happen under the surface. We don’t realize we’re thinking them. If we did, we’d feel terrible.
That’s why it’s so important to constantly renew our minds if we want to break free from our idols. When we see the truth, we fall on our faces in repentance. We see how much God loves us, and we want to love Him back.
Even if it means giving up our idols.
Question for journal: What is one thing you can do today to give up your idol?
P.S. If you’re not sure what your idols are, take the idolatry quiz.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Question for discussion: How do you convince yourself that your idol needs to go?