1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (ESV)
In Deuteronomy 5: 7, God commands “‘You shall have no other gods before me.”(ESV) Many think this just means that we shouldn’t pray to a golden cow! While that is something we should avoid, there are many other things in this world that can take an unhealthy hold over our hearts without us realizing it. An idol can be something that brings comfort, takes away stress, dispels worry, or even causes joy. A thing may not necessarily be bad in and of itself, but if takes hold in our mind and heart, it has become a god to us and has taken us away from the one true God. I myself have had things in my life that I loved too much and had to let go of. It wasn’t easy, not even close to easy, but now that it’s gone, I feel free.
It’s best to get rid of these things before they take too strong a hold over us. In order to be faithful to God, we have to have our own back and keep a watchful eye. And anything that we see that is becoming a worldly god, we must nip in the bud! Our heart is priceless and we have to learn to protect it. But how?
Well, it won’t be easy for us, no matter how much advice we’re given. We’re stubborn, and keeping our hearts away from the world that calls us by name is hard work.
On a regular basis, we should pray that God will show us what has a risk of getting a hold over our hearts. We might not think we are at risk for this, but everyone is. Sometimes, the things we must give up are the very things we think we need most. We should think through those things that we enjoy most, what we get sick at the thought of losing, what we spend our money on (again and again), and what our parents may have said was too important to us (you know what these are!). After thinking it through, and praying about it, I write it down what I need to lay aside. And I ask God’s help in it.
Some things that we might need to lay aside for awhile, or at least reduce, might include:
Spending time with friends or talking to them
Eating too much or the wrong thing
Hurts, don’t it?
None of these are wrong in and of themselves, but any of these, or anything else, can be wrong in excess or when we need them in order to be happy. In order to be sure we’ve been honest with ourselves, we ought to get accountability from our parents. That’s what they are there for, to love us, to guide us, and to teach us. If you are in a situation where your Mom or Dad cannot help you, ask another family member (an older sibling, an aunt, etc.) or a wise friend to hold you accountable. The sooner worldly loves are removed from our lives, and our hearts, the better.
You may be thinking “What kind of life would I have if I gave up …? ” At first, it will hurt. But the time gained from removing these things frees up a considerable amount of time to spend in reading God’s Word, praying, listening to sermons, serving your family, learning a new skill, taking care of things around the house, doing things with our family, or helping others. Or even on school work! The more time we spend with God, or spend serving Him by serving others, the less the things of the world will mean to you and soon you’ll be asking yourself “Why did I ever waste so much time on …?”
But be warned: These things have to be ruthlessly removed because leaving even a little bit in our heart makes way for it to take hold of us all over again. Any time you feel yourself feeling pulled back into the love of worldly things, turn your mind to God. Start reading the Bible, pray for someone who isn’t saved or who is struggling, or go tell someone about Jesus! These things have helped take my mind off things that I don’t need to waste time on.
I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I don’t have to fight this myself, but these are just some things that have helped me. I hope and pray they will help you, also.