It’s 2020! Time for new commitments and resolutions. We’ll resolve to do everything from losing weight, being kinder and saving more, to reading more, praying more and watching less TV. All of these resolutions and more, are worth our efforts.
The question always comes back to, why is it that we struggle to follow through? Why do we find ourselves back on the couch, in front of the TV (or in front of our phones) with a box of Cheez-Its; our books or Bible sitting on an end table unopened, while we continue our “drive-by” prayers and move from couch to fridge, or activity to activity? Why do our resolutions lack resolve?
Perhaps it’s not that our resolve is weak, or that these less productive activities are so attractive. Perhaps the truth lies in something more disconcerting…That we have chosen to place value on things that provide only short term and often empty fulfillment; and by doing so, we have chosen to worship them over the things of God. Like the Asherah poles of wayward Israel, they have become our idols.
It seems strong to suggest that a little too much TV or too many Cheez-Its result in those things becoming idols in our lives. But the reality is, wherever we place our time and resources, becomes our priority. When something becomes a priority, it means that we’ve drawn a line in the sand. Intentionally or unintentionally, we’ve said; “this Cheez-It is more important than anything else right now”. Once we’ve done that, we just may have made it an idol.
Now, in the interest of total transparency, I love Cheez-Its! I’ve eaten more than my share in my lifetime. But when I combine them with too much time on the couch in front of the boob-tube, ignoring the Bible that sits five feet away, and settling for drive-by prayers, I’ve made those Cheez-Its an idol…or maybe it’s the TV that’s the idol? In either case, I’ve allowed my priorities to be turned upside down.
God has given us all things, including the TV and the Cheez-Its. But we must remember that these things are gifts, they are not gods. How we use them (or allow them to use us), determines which they are in our lives.
Many Israelites who chose to worship things other than the one true God, did not stop believing in their God, they simply wanted a back-up plan; or a back-up god (1 Kings 18:21). They looked for their satisfaction in things of the world…created things. God was no longer first. Now let me be clear that too many Cheese-Itz (or donuts or football games) does not mean your salvation is at risk. It could mean however that we’ve added another god to our portfolio of gods.
I share this because I think it’s healthy for us to challenge ourselves. What are the things that have become our Asherah poles? While it might be Cheez-Its and TV for me, for you it could be watching sports, playing golf ; perhaps adding another item of clothing to your closet that in all honesty, you really don’t need.
God entrusts us with time, relationships and resources. As we approach each of these gifts, are we doing it with an eternal focus? Let’s cut down our Asherah poles and put our focus back, not on the things of this world, but of those things that are eternal (2 Cor 4:18). When we treat our time, relationships and resources with a heart and mind that is rooted in things eternal, we once again, put God first and cut down our other gods.
Praying that, when it comes to the things of God, 2020 is an Ephesians 3:20 year for each of us!