Sunday, October 1, 2023

Idolizing Ourselves

"Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them." —Psalm 115:8

One of Amy Carmichael’s favorite quotations was, “Beware what you set your heart upon for it will surely be yours.” Whoever penned that line certainly echoes the psalmist’s mockery of idolatry in Psalm 115. After poking fun at idols, the psalmist asserts in verse 8, “Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” Invariably, we are transformed into the likeness of whatever we seek and worship.

Israel had their hearts set upon having a king. Samuel had to warn Israel, after Saul became king, not to turn away from serving the Lord because they would “go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.” Samuel saw the result of idolatry: futility, vanity. The kingship was only a semblance of what they truly desired. In the end it did not sustain them. Like Israel, we optimistically seek happiness through such things as affluence, prestige, relationships, and achievement. But in the end, they are not big enough to sustain us. We discover just how inadequate these gods are.

Our children face the same peril as those in Jeremiah’s day who “have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). Children need to know upon what to set their heart. Children, just as adults, seek after God, but not in the right way or in the right place. They seek Him “under the sun” when He is above. They seek Him in beauty, athleticism, acceptance, and romance when He is found with “him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” Children must be taught to make distinctions between the allurements of false gods that produce emptiness and the true God who can sustain us in the grittier moments of life.