When we think of idols, often what comes to mind is an image of a wood-carved statue that sacrifices are made to, but we don’t automatically think of the self as being an idol. An idol is anything that takes the place of Jesus in our hearts as top priority and as source of everything we want and need.
One of the most prevalent idols people face today is the idol of the self. We don’t automatically see ourselves as idols, but the contents of our desire and actions will tell us how obviously we worship and sacrifice for the self. We worship our own desires and sacrifice everything including relationships with others and with God for our own self interest and self image.
If you really think about it, many pressing issues you may be facing today are rooted in a strong core of self idolatry. If you struggle with gossip, it’s because you value your image above the image of others. If you struggle with alcoholism or drug use, it can be because you value a physical satisfaction over the satisfying presence of God.
2 Timothy 3:1-2 tells us of the challenges we may face today: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…”
The truth of the matter is that we all struggle with the love of the self. We are all selfish people with selfish ambitions and selfish desires, and it is an idolatrous abhorrence in the eyes of God. We all need to get rid of the idolatry of ourselves because it tends to put too much emphasis on our abilities and needs over the faithfulness of God.
When it becomes too much about us, we start to think of our independence from God, which will always lead us to destruction and ruin. Just like Adam and Eve when their desire was to “be like God” when God had given them everything they needed – life, the garden, each other and God’s presence.
When we idolise the self, we have no choice but to stand by our power and faithfulness and on our own we are in big trouble. But God reminds us always to put our faith and trust in Him and not ourselves. Jesus wants us to place our faith, hope and devotion upon Him alone and let no one and nothing – not even ourselves or our desires – get in the way of our worship and dedication to Him. And as we turn to Christ, He will meet all the needs and desires that we so eagerly once tried to fulfil.