Idolatry; January 3, 2022

Jonah 2:8 Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

This is a very profound and true statement that deserves a lot of thought. Jonah himself was probably thinking of literal idols, statues to be worshiped, but this is actually much broader and deeper than that. An idol can be anything that takes the place of God in your heart. For some that is money, for some it is “science,” (I put that in quotes, because genuine science is not like that) for some it is personal power and prestige, and the list could go on and on. Clinging to anything ahead of God, even your own family or your own life, is ultimately a loss for you. It’s not that God is mean or is an egomaniac, it’s just that our hearts have to be lined up with Him to receive all that He wants to give us. Getting our priorities wrong, as Jonah says, forfeits (the Japanese says “throws away”) the grace that is prepared for and directed toward us. It’s amazing how much trouble we have grasping that important fact. We have made something of a joke of idolatry, calling performers “idols,” and for some people they actually are. Idols that are external to us are relatively easy to identify, but it gets much more complicated when we let things like our own talents and abilities take the place in our hearts of the One who gave them to us. Some people idolize their occupation, and when retirement is forced upon them such people tend to die rather quickly. As I’ve said already, the list can go on and on. The point is that God has to be first in our hearts for us to line up with the flow of His grace and blessings, which are unending if we are positioned to receive them.

I’ve tasted this first hand, letting various things usurp God’s place in my heart from time to time. That never works out well! I will forever be grateful for God showing me my own heart for a brief instant way back in 1972. I felt at the time like it nearly destroyed me, and all I could do was kneel and cry out, “My Lord and my God!” I wish I could say that my priorities have been pristine ever since, but that’s certainly not been the case. I have let my own comfort and pleasure rise above Him more times than I could count, not grasping that I was forfeiting the grace that He had prepared for me. The devil is a very skillful liar, and sadly, my own sinful nature cooperates with him all too readily! It took being swallowed by a whale to bring Jonah to his senses. I don’t want to be that dense!

Father, thank You for Your unending grace toward me. Help me indeed stay lined up with You so that Your grace may flow through me unhindered, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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