There is a Psalm that captures my imagination every time I read it. It’s Psalm 115, and in verses 4-8 we read about the consequences of looking to idols instead of God:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes but do not see.
They have ears but do not hear;
noses but do not smell.
They have hands but do not feel;
feet but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.”
“Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.” Those are powerful, haunting words. Ever since I read them I have been praying for insight into their meaning for my own life, and I want to share it with you now.
Since reading these words, God has identified 2 key idols in my life (though they are countless more) that have shaped my identity as a result of “putting my trust in them.” The first is the way I look. Last night my husband and I talked about walking the line between looking good for him versus looking good for sinful reasons. Because it’s important for me to take care of myself and look good for my husband, I often allow this pure motive to disguise my impure motives. My more superficial or insecure motives slip in the back door under the excuse of pleasing my husband. But in reality, there is an idol there.
As I reflected on what the above Scripture means for my soul in this regard, I realized that when I make material things into an idol, I “become just like them.” That is to say, all glamour but no substance. The things I wear look pretty, but at the end of the day they’re just cotton, plastic or glass. What I wear may look pretty but only for a moment. That with which I adorn my body is only passing away because it’s not made of anything that lasts. It’s cheap and poorly made.
According to the above Scripture, I am becoming just like the adornments I just described. The more I put my trust in how I look, the more my identity will become like them. I will become superficial. My soul will abide in things that do not last. I may look glamorous, but the substance of my soul is cheap.
The second idol that God identified to me is my husband and my marriage. I had to think a little bit harder about what it means to “become like them” in regard to my husband. While it is certainly true that the two of us can become like one another in negative ways, pulling one another down instead of building one another up, I think the better interpretation here is that my identity becomes too intertwined with his. It’s not that I am literally turning into my husband, but that I cannot distinguish my own identity apart from him.
This becomes most noticeable when he hurts my feelings or disappoints me. It can be devastating, and because my identity is tied to his in an idolatrous way, I am wrecked by it. I have no resource for stepping outside of the situation and speaking, hearing, seeing and feeling like Christ because I am more tied to my husband than I am to Him. So while it is true that a husband and wife are to become one, that unity is to be sustained by Christ, not apart from him. From this perspective, there have been times when our union has gone rogue.
Those are just two of the countless other idols with which our identities get entwined. Our children, our careers, getting attention from the opposite sex, our abilities, the size and beauty of our house and even our hobbies can become idols that shape who we are instead of being shaped by Christ. So I challenge you to examine your own life in light of the above passage. What are your idols, and how are you becoming like them? This Scripture is a helpful reminder that worship is not simply a matter of God wanting out attention, but because what we worship determines our identities and He designed us to be like Him, not our impotent idols.