Everyone worships something.
Some worship money.
Some worship their job.
Some worship their stuff.
Some worship their kids.
Some worship sex.
Some worship food.
Some worship marriage.
Some worship sports.
Some worship appearance.
Some worship a hobby.
That list could go on forever. Because everyone worships something.
But worship isn’t the problem. We were created to worship. God wired us that way. I like to think of it like this. At the center of our hearts, there’s a throne, divinely placed by our Creator. We worship whatever sits on that throne. So the problem isn’t our worship. The problem is the object of our worship.
In Exodus 32, we see this worship problem play out in the worst possible way. After Moses received the 10 commandments from God, he came down from Mt. Sinai and found God’s people worshiping. But instead of worshiping the God that had just brought them out of slavery in Egypt, they were worshiping a golden calf. A man-made idol. A fancy cow. Moses was ticked. God was furious. The 10 commandments were shattered. 3,000 people were slaughtered. A plague broke out. God threatened absolute destruction. All because the Israelites worshiped something. They simply worshiped the wrong something.
Now if I walked into your house, I probably wouldn’t find you bowing down to a golden statue in your living room. But just like the Israelites, you’ve got an idol, probably even a few of them. They’re in your heart. They’re sitting on the throne, barking out orders, demanding you to serve them.
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
Notice those words. Everything you do. Your heart determines everything you do. So when an idol takes over the throne, it becomes the reason you do everything you do. Your idols determine the way you think, react to certain situations, treat people, work, rest, play, love, everything. And even more terrifying, they determine the way you sin.
For example, in the 7th grade, I developed a potty mouth. I could cuss with the best of them. But my real problem wasn’t my bad mouth. Sure, saying those words was sinful and wrong. But they were a symptom of a deeper issue going on in my heart.
I used cursing to entertain, to make people laugh. As a pastor’s kid, I actually enjoyed shocking my classmates with my ability to throw out those four letter words. They would say, “I can’t believe you’re a preacher’s kid!” I viewed that as their acceptance of me. It felt good to fit in and please my friends.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a worship problem. Every day, I placed the idol of man’s praise on the throne of my heart. That desire to be liked ruled much of my life. I loved pleasing people, being liked, being praised. And I would sin to get it. That’s idolatry in its finest.
If I can be honest, I still struggle with that same idol today. Even as I write blog posts, preach sermons, and post on social media, the temptation to please people is there. It’s a real battle. I constantly must check my heart and ask myself tough questions about my motives. Why am I doing this? Is it so I can feed the idol of man’s praise?
It’s scary because even the good things we do can be done for an idol. Serving your church, honoring your spouse, wanting the best for your kids. Those are good things, good desires to have. But when those desires sit on the throne of your heart, when they consume your worship, they become idols. They express themselves in common sins like anger, worry, anxiety, frustration, lack of joy.
Every sin you commit can be traced back to one thing: an idol in your heart.
And many times, you are absolutely blind to it. You try to deal with the symptoms, and you completely miss the cancer deep in your heart. For instance, there’s no such thing as an anger problem. Anger is how we respond when we’re protecting something important to us, usually an idol of some kind. So the problem isn’t necessarily your anger. It’s your desire for control, money, personal success, comfort, a good reputation, etc. This is why your spouse, kids, and coworkers make you so mad. They are unknowingly attacking the idols in your heart. So now the very people you love the most are your enemies.
Everyone worships something. And the only solution to this worship problem is to put Jesus on His throne. The throne He designed and created in your heart. When Jesus is on the throne of your heart, when He is given full control, that’s when true life change happens. And as Proverbs tells us, everything you do will flow from that.
Searching your heart is difficult, even painful. You’ll be shocked at what you find in there. So ask yourself some tough questions today. Check your motives. Double check them. Our problems and issues are more complex than you think.
But the solution is simple.