Christian Living

Do You Worship a Modern-Day Idol?

We Must Protect Ourselves from Greed and Materialism, Worshipping God Instead

The Bible talks a lot about idolatry, of idols and worshipping them. Both the Old and New Testaments address this, warning against wrong worship and telling us we must put God first. As followers of Jesus, we would never worship idols today. Or do we?

Paul writes that greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

Greed is the excessive desire for wealth. Greed is also an excessive desire for power or the consumption of food, which is gluttony.

Given this as our understanding of greed, it’s easy to see greed as being much more prevalent in our world today then a physical idol we might bow down to and worship.

Instead, the tendency is for people to worship money, power, and food. According to Paul, each stand as idolatry.

His instruction is we must put it to death. It’s part of our earthly nature, which includes sexual morality, impurity, lust, and evil desires, along with greed.

With greed appearing last on the list, it’s easy to overlook it and instead focus on the first several items. We check off those traits as something we would never do. Yet we may be more susceptible to greed.

Remember, greed is idolatry. To focus on wealth, power, or food means we elevate its importance, worshipping it instead of God.

Guard Against Greed

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make more money, earn a promotion, or enjoy food. But when it becomes excessive, it morphs into our idol.

If we have an opportunity to improve ourselves, we should take it. Making the most out of the life God has given us honors him, providing we do so for his glory and not our own.

We must, therefore, guard against the greedy pursuit—the excessive chase—to earn more, become more, or eat more.

Pursue Contentment

In another of his letters, Paul shares his example of being content. He writes that he’s learned the secret of contentment in whatever situation he finds himself in, rather full or hungry, with plenty or in need (Philippians 4:11–12).

We will do well to follow his example, to pursue contentment regardless of our situation. Being content honors God, thankful for his provisions to whatever degree we have them.

Yet again, if we have an opportunity to improve our situation, we should take it. But as we do, we must guard against the idolatry of greed.

Materialism Opens Us to Greed

Our contentment protects us from materialism—a rampant plague for many in the world today. Materialism is when we focus on accumulating wealth or physical comfort at the exclusion of other things, such as our relationship with God.

Materialism is one small step away from greed. This suggests that materialism is the gateway to greed. When we yield to materialism, we worship money and possessions more so than God.

Put God First

To avoid the idol worship of greed and materialism, we should pursue contentment. In doing so we put God first.

God is what matters most, both in this world and in the next.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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