When you recognize that you're serving false idols, keep in mind that they won't serve you back.
How do we kick out idols from our priorities? One answer is fairly straightforward. Don't believe in their power.
The long answer? It's a lot harder than that. The thing about idols is that we're afraid to let go: These gods I've kept hidden with me always—who am I without them?
If that's you, here's a few thoughts to remember:
Be realistic. We live. We die. We'll be forgotten. In all honesty, that will be the case for most of us. We won't be remembered for long after we die. (Unless one of us becomes the next Albert Einstein or Elvis... in which case we'll be remembered only a few centuries longer.) It's uncomfortable to think about, but hang in there. Think on it.
How many of the things you currently worry about will be irrelevant in a few years?
How many of the things you worry about will matter after you die?
In one of T.S. Eliot's most famous poems, The Hollow Men, he writes about men whose lives are meaningless. Why? They missed out on seeking the Kingdom of God. They worked to build their own palaces in the kingdom of men, worshiping idols that could never bring them to life; so after they passed away, the hollow men groaned because they and their lives never had substance. They chanted over and over in regret, "For Thine is the Kingdom... for Thine is the Kingdom..."
It's kind of a creepy image, collapsed men of dust groaning at the realization that they sought the wrong kingdom. But the image is an accurate one of us, if we spend our lives clutching gods of our own making.
Your gods don't love you.
Pursuing wealth does not mean that you will get wealth or be secure. Chasing popularity doesn't mean you will always have friends or be understood. There are no promises. In your moment of need, these gods cannot fill you up.
Only One is alive.
Hebrews 12:28–29 says, "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." If we believe this verse, the little gods we pursue become in our eyes exactly what they already are—impostors, stand-ins for the real God who has the power to shake heaven and earth... and whose love for us is unfading.
Only He died for you. Theologian John Stott put this in better words than I could. He was speaking of Buddha, but the same could be said of any idol we pursue:
I have... stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross.... That is the God for me!... He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death.
Our God made Himself human so He could carry our pain. What other god do you know who would do that for you?