Confronting Our Idols


Focusing on ourselves and our abilities—whether it is self-esteem or self-actualization—will produce the opposite of the contentment we long for.

It is easy to criticize the pride and shortsightedness of the ancient Babylonians. But consider that we continue worshiping idols today, often without realizing it. The most dominant among our idols is the god of self. Our resources, our energy, our time — our complete focus — is on the self. Slick politicians make campaign speeches that cater to the powerful god of self. The advertising industry dedicates itself to feeding the god of self. 

Self-esteem has become the byword in education. For all age levels, curricula are designed to increase students’ self-esteem. With this emphasis on kids feeling good about themselves, however, their academic performance has failed to follow suit. The Third International Math and Science Study showed that American students performed dismally compared to students of other nations. 

In our discontented pursuit of a "better" self, we are not that different from the Babylonians. When the Babylonian council assembled to defy God and try to steal His glory, God assembled His own council. The divine meeting I am referring to is described in Genesis 11:6-7: "The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’" 

The decree issued from the Council of the Holy Trinity resulted in a massive human communication problem that prevented the tower from being completed. God’s judgment always prevails, and those who continue to worship the god of self will always be frustrated and sometimes, even destroyed. 

Humanity uses modern technology to build great buildings, and these towering edifices engender great pride. When you stand on the ground looking up at the Sears Tower, it literally makes you dizzy. But when you fly above that same skyscraper, it looks insignificant. From God’s perspective, all of humanity’s achievements amount to nothing more than a pimple on the face of the planet. 

Focusing on ourselves and our abilities — whether it is self-esteem or self-actualization — will produce the opposite of the contentment that we long for. There is only one solution to our search for peace and lasting satisfaction. 

Prayer: Lord, if I have allowed anything to become an idol in my life, I pray that You would reveal it to me now. I know that You warn against idolatry because of Your love for me. You want what is best for me, and that is to glorify You with all of my being. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

"Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14). 


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