The Kingdom of Self
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
I once read “Idols are what consume you instead of you being consumed by God.”
Now, be honest – we’ve all been there. As believers, we’ve each had idols at one time or another in our lives … probably more that we care to admit. As a matter of fact, idol worship is a daily occurrence for many of us.
How do we know when this is happening?
A good place to start is considering is what distracts us most from spending quality time with God. What do we find ourselves focusing on more than God? Where do we go for comfort? Those are crucial questions to ask when we truly want to know if we’re centered on God, or on something else.
For example, I spend most of my non-family time primarily on the ministries I work with. I can always tell when I’ve missed my quiet morning time with God and prayer because I start thinking too much about myself, my needs, and my comfort. I have to remind myself the very reason I’m working so passionately in ministry is to glorify God and sharing my faith to encourage others.
Yet, when our work – even ministry work – turns to be more about what we’re doing than what our Creator is doing through us, what does that say about who we are? Does our idol turn to ourselves?
There are so many idols we cling to – often things we may even consider noble. Examples of idolatry today might include pursuing money to provide for our families, attachment to our phones, our identity, unhealthy admiration for certain people, our children, even exercise and diet.
Sometimes modern-day idols are less tangible and more about thoughts, habits, and attitudes: obsessions we can’t give up, daily routines we can’t break, dark feelings holding us captive.
Anything that takes precedence over devotion to God.
For Christians, the simple explanation for idol worship is this: when we elevate something or someone above God or raise that something or someone to God’s rightful place in our lives.
Our Devotional today is from Paul David Tripp and his authentic description of idolatry as one of the enemy’s greatest tools. I hope this blesses you and helps to clarify and recognize any idols in your own life!
May God continuously lead your path.
Costume Kingdoms – by Paul David Tripp
“Be aware that the kingdom of self is a costume kingdom. It does a perversely brilliant job of masquerading as the kingdom of God.“
Spiritual fakery is one of the chief tools of the enemy. It is one of the key ingredients of spiritual blindness. This is why we read the warning in Matthew 7: 15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous Wolves.” the Kingdom of self is very skilled at wearing the clothing of the Kingdom of God. So:
- A focus on material things can masquerade as good stewardship of your possessions.
- Loving personal control can masquerade as using God given leadership gifts.
- Anger can masquerade as having a heart for what is right.
- Self-righteous legalism can masquerade as loving God’s law.
- Building your own ministry empire can masquerade as a commitment to the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
- Fear of man can masquerade as a sensitive heart toward the needs of others.
- Selfish attention seeking can masquerade as being candid about your needs.
- Judgment and criticism can masquerade as a commitment to honesty.
- Theological pride can masquerade as a commitment to God’s truth.
- A craving to be known and respected can masquerade as a commitment to ministry.
- Bondage to the opinions of others can masquerade as a commitment to community.
- Lust can masquerade as a celebration of the beauty of God’s creation.
- Gossip can masquerade as a prayerful concern for others.
It really is true – the Kingdom of self is a costume Kingdom. This is because one of the enemies most useful tools is the ability of wrong to imitate right. Couple this with our natural propensity to spiritual blindness and you end up with personal spiritual confusion. It is scary to think of the number of times we think we are serving God when we are actually serving ourselves, or the number of times we think we are worshipping God when we’re actually giving worship and service to some aspect of the creation.
The masquerading nature of sin plays to the fickleness of our idolatrous hearts. So what is often is not what we think it is, and the masquerading Idol has no power at all to deliver to our hungry parts what Jesus alone can give us. Only God can give us insight into our hearts and free us from our bondage to the little costume Kingdom of one.
For further study and encouragement: Jeremiah 10: 1-16