I remember the shame of it like it was yesterday. The cashier handed me a paper heart and asked me to write down what I loved. He said he would hang it on the wall with all the other customer’s hearts. I glanced over at the wall.
I don’t remember any hearts standing out to me.
I grabbed the marker and jotted down, “HAITI”.
Oh my. The Holy Spirit has never been quicker to convict in my life. Completely blind before, and with the writing of one word, I could see right into my heart.
Feeling guilty, I grabbed another heart from the pile. This time I wrote, “JESUS”.
I went home that night and I felt the weight of what God had revealed to me. There was no hiding the fact that I had an idol. It was written on a heart for all to see. MY HEART. With my own hand. In permanent marker. I loved Haiti and I loved Jesus, but my gut? When asked what I loved—my guttural reaction was Haiti. I pictured my hearts hanging on the wall:
Charles Spurgeon notes, ‘If God sees us making idols of anything, he will either break our idols or break us.’
And that’s sort of, well, exactly what God did with Haiti for me. God is not a fan of idols. He says it over and over…
You shall have no other gods before me. Keep yourselves from idols. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. Put to death…idolatry. All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Flee from idolatry.
And those are just a few remarks. An idol is anything that takes the place of God in your heart, in your mind, in your soul, in your actions. If you think about it more than God, it’s an idol. If you serve it more than God, it’s an idol. If the reason you serve is anything other than God, serving or what you’re serving, is an idol. If your first reaction when someone asks you what you love, is anything other than God. IT’S AN IDOL.
And it’s so easy to get things confused, right? We serve in the name of Jesus. We follow his calling and sometimes we find ourselves caught up in idolizing what He has actually called us to do.
It’s very possible for an orphan to be an idol.
It’s possible for mission trips to be an idol.
It’s possible for feeding hungry kids to be an idol.
It’s possible to lead the fight against slavery and have it be an idol.
It’s very possible for VERY GOOD THINGS to be idols. There are a lot of really GREAT things happening in this world. There are a lot of really GOOD people doing really GOOD things.
But in a wall full of hearts, what will your heart say? What’s at your core? What does your heart declare? Will it write JESUS? Will your heart stand out when Jesus glances at it? Or will it blend in with the rest of the paper hearts?
Let me ask you the same question the cashier asked me:
What do you love the most?