Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Paul Tripp writes in his book, New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional, that, “A desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire becomes a ruling thing.” And he is right. How often have we allowed the good gifts which God blesses us with to become idols within our hearts?
Every Good Thing Comes from God
Think about it. We so easily and so subtly exchange our love for the “good things” in our lives for our love for the Creator. While we may not always recognize this exchange in our hearts it happens every day. We can do it with work, with health, with material goods, and with our relationships. For example, it’s so easy to make your spouse the center of your life and happiness rather than be grateful for this person without elevating him/her to the position of God in your life.
These sneaky “idols” of our heart can appear in many forms. It might be that God blesses us financially and instead of giving God the glory for providing us with good health to work hard and the vocational opportunities to make money, we grow prideful because of our accomplishments. When we do this, we have exchanged our gratitude to God for self-aggrandizement.
Give Thanks to God for Every Good Gift
Or perhaps we may be gifted with talents to teach and serve others with effectiveness and skill. Do we grow prideful as we see our reach expand and grow? Or do we humbly acknowledge that every good and perfect gift is from God above to be used for his glory? Paul Tripp is correct. We should be appalled by how quickly our hearts shift from giving thanks to the Giver to idolizing the gifts themselves.
As Tripp writes, “It’s not wrong to desire theological knowledge, personal comfort, or the respect of others, but these things must not rule our hearts. Here is another argument for the depth of our need for grace. We all still have wandering hearts. We are all still tempted to put the gift in the place that the Giver alone should occupy.”
Worship God Alone
As this passage in Jeremiah plainly states, we should be ashamed and appalled if we place our hope and trust in mere “gifts” rather than in the Giver. Only God alone is worthy of our hearts’ worship and love and trust.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
- Have you ever considered how subtly our hearts morph from worshipping God to idolizing the gifts he gives us?
- Have you ever been tempted to place your hope and trust in God’s good gifts rather than continually acknowledging him as the One who makes them all possible?
- Today, spend time in Scripture searching out passages that define gifts from God. How does a study of these verses help you better understand God’s great love for you?
- As you spend time in prayer this week, be mindful to give thanks to God for all of his blessings and the many ways he orchestrates these good things to become part of your life.