Sep 03 2008

Socially acceptable idolatry

Subject: Faith,IdolatryRLW3 @ 6:46 am

Four weeks ago, the Holy Spirit showed me something in the Scripture that I had never seen. Although I have lived a fairly devout and committed life since my conversion, I have been guilty of idolatry!

I realize that this sounds a bit “extreme”. However, I don’t know how to characterize it any other way.

I have recently moved to a new part of the country and am looking for a job. I was meditating on a very familiar passage to bolster my faith that my heavenly Father knows my situation and will provide for me:

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)

Now, I have read this passage numerous times. I have memorized it. I have endeavored to obey it through these many years.

The verse previous to this passage holds even more value to me.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)

This verse has been a guiding light to me through the years. I have used it to discern motives and events, evaluate prospects and purposes and winnow the desires of my heart.

However, this time I noticed something different…”Therefore I say to you…

Jesus great passage on seeking the kingdom of God begins with the word “Therefore.”

I believe it was Kenneth Hagin who said “When you see the word ‘therefore’ in the Scripture, you probably ought to find out what it is there for.” “Therefore” refers back to the Jesus’ declaration that “you cannot serve God and mammon”. 

One of the reasons that I had never noticed this before is because of the little topical headings that the publisher puts in to help us find certain passages. The heading “Do Not Worry” is placed between verse 24 and verse 25. However, verse 25 is a continuation of Jesus thought in verse 24. Read it again…

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God an mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life,

Lest you think that I am stretching the text and either exaggerating or distorting Jesus meaning, consider this…

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,

He begins and end the “Do Not Worry” passage with “therefore”. In the beginning, he says that you cannot serve God and Mammon, therefore, do not worry. At the end, he says that your heavenly Father knows your needs and will provide for them, therefore, do not worry.

Worry is a form of idolatry. It is serving Mammon. If I look to Mammon to meet my needs and care for me, then worry is the tribute that I pay as a token of my dependence. If I look to God to meet my needs and care for me, then I must not worry for He is good and He can be trusted.

I cannot tell you how this has impacted my life. To my shame, I have worried incessantly. When I was a minister, for 5 years I worried about sinning and being disqualified.

When I resigned from the ministry, I worried about getting a job. When I found good steady employment, for 11 years I worried about being laid off. Ironically, when I was unexpectedly laid off earlier this year on a Friday, I received an unexpected phone call and had a new job for the same pay plus a car and a gas card by the following Monday!

When we bought a house, since we had no savings account, every month for 18 years I worried about how we were going to pay the bills!

I have tried many times to obey Jesus and “not worry.” Now that I see that it is a form of serving Mammon, I WILL not worry again.