“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (ACTS 17:16).
As the apostle Paul looked over the city of Athens, he was appalled and agonized over the idolatry that was open for all to see. John Gill, in his commentary of the Bible, writes of Paul’s spirit in this passage:
“… not only his soul was troubled and his heart was grieved, but he was exasperated and provoked to the last degree: he was in a paroxysm; his heart was hot within him; he had a burning fire in his bones, and was weary with forbearing, and could not stay; his zeal wanted vent, and he gave it.”
Every country, every city, every culture, and sad to say, every church and yes, every Christian, has their own particular idols in which they are devoted and serve. We just can’t see them. They have become blindspots in our lives and our ministries. It’s always much easier to see the idols of others than to recognize the idols in our own lives!
The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” In other words, an idol is ANYONE or ANYTHING that replaces the one, true, living God as the source of our devotion and dedication. Idolatry is taking place when ANYONE or ANYTHING keeps us from loving God with every fiber of our being and being committed to Christ and the cause of Christ! One man wrote years ago, that the human heart was an idol factory. Very true! As one author noted:
Old gods die hard. They hold on, they creep in, they quietly clutch at us. Perhaps when we meet Christ, the old gods fall silent for a while. But they regroup. They wait for their time, and they aim as high as ever. They want to rule our hearts again. … Idolatry isn’t an issue, it’s THE ISSUE!
God knows our hearts need to be stirred by these idols, and we must be willing to do something about the idolatry. But not simply the idols in our country and our culture, but the idols that have crept into our churches, and into our very hearts!
O Lord, search my heart, reveal to me the idols, not in my brothers life, but the idols in my life!
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 JN 5:21).