As I pray about who to ask to guest post, I’m amazed at who God has already stirred even in ways they aren’t aware. Amanda West is what I might consider a friend of a friend. I’ve always known her through someone else until recently. I’ve had the opportunity to doing Bible Study with Amanda this past semester and was excited when she accepted my invitation to write a post for my blog. The story she shares today is one that you will certainly relate to. I’m humbled by her transparency in an area that I have certainly struggled with myself. (Please note: names were changed in this post)
Idolatry……When I think about idolatry the following come to mind: money, career, sports teams, clothes, celebrities, television shows, vehicles, houses, shopping, food, recreations. The definitions of idolatry are: anything used as an object of worship; a false god; excessive devotion or reverence to something. An idol is anything that takes away our devotion to the one, true God. Greed, wanting more and more of something is a form of idolatry. Over the past year Christ has opened my eyes to idolatry–in the form of friendship.
Throughout our eight year marriage, my husband and I have been very blessed to form close relationships with a few other couples whom we consider family. Over the past two years, we devoted a lot of our time with a new couple, “The Smith’s.” We attended church together, hung out on weekends, went on vacations, and enjoyed getting close to this couple. David, my husband, and I experienced true anguish when our friends endured the miscarriage of their first pregnancy. They adored our children and often baby-sat so that we could go on dates. I was so excited to find out that “The Smith’s” were expecting again. We would be able to love their little blessing and return the favor of baby-sitting. We were so thrilled about being able to watch their family grow and blossom. But, that did not happen. We didn’t get to love on their baby. Around the time of their child’s birth, “The Smith’s” shut us out of their lives. They didn’t want our help, our baby advice or our love. I felt rejected, helpless, and quite frankly–p.o.’d.
After experiencing the death of my father a year earlier, the loss of this friendship was like experiencing death all over again. I cried, I grieved, I prayed. I cried, I grieved, I prayed. I also caused my friends great strife by blaming them and saying ugly things, which I did apologize and sought forgiveness over. The separation from our friends consumed me. It was during this time that I began to seek Christ with complete abandonment. I prayed for my friends as well as for reconciliation. I wanted desperately to “fix” things but I continually heard His still voice whisper, “refrain,” “let go.” I did not want to let go. After all, we had devoted so much energy. We sacrificed time with other friends and family to build this particular relationship.
Through my desperation for Christ, He later led me to the realization that I had allowed this friendship to become a form of idolatry. I had gotten my priorities out of whack and allowed my devotion to this friendship take priority over my relationship with Christ. I had taken ownership of this relationship.
James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
He revealed that this friendship was His blessing, His doing, and it did not “belong” to me. It wasn’t until I began thirsting for Christ and intentionally seeking Him that He revealed this idea, that even friendship can be a form of idolatry. Through the loss of this particular friendship (including the sadness and anger I have felt), Christ allowed me to see the only relationship I need is HIS.
You see, Satan had me believing the biggest lie. The entire time I was trying to devote myself to “The Smith’s,” I was justifying my actions with scripture “Love your neighbor as yourself.” While this scripture is most certainly Biblical, I wasn’t applying the scripture in the correct sequence. I have learned that this scripture requires us to follow it with another part of the scripture. I had falsely allowed myself to believe that it was okay if I was following this scripture with no regard to its order.
In the parable of The Good Samaritan the lawyer stands up and asks Jesus
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10: 25-28).
Notice the first commandment we are to obey is to love God, the next is to love your neighbor. We cannot get these out of sequence. We must love God more than anything else. I put my devotion for my friends above my adoration for the Lord, and that was wrong–sinful.
While this trial of losing this friendship was significantly heart breaking, I am so glad Christ showed me that life is more peaceful and blessed when we are obedient and place Him first.
My question to you is this:
1) Is there any priority in your life greater than God?
2) Is there anything or someone you feel like you can’t live without?
3) Does God truly take first place?
Maybe you can easily answer these questions or maybe you can’t. I would encourage you to pray about it. I could not see my sin until God opened my eyes.
Luke 10: 23, Jesus says to the Lord, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.”
Ask God to search your heart and reveal anything you may be holding more tightly to than Him. Most importantly, put Christ first. This seems like such an easy concept, yet we all falter and that is what makes His sacrifice so awesome. He died, a brutal, humiliating death, and victoriously rose from the grave so that we could be set free from the bondage of our sins.
Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” I encourage you to read all of Romans chapter 6. Here are some other scriptures that can guide you in placing Christ first.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Philippians 4: 4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
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 10: 37-39
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life