Little children, keep yourselves from idols.1 John 5:21(ESV)
There is something so simple in these words of the aged apostle John, and yet they contain a depth of yearning towards his young converts when he warns, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." John loved his Lord Jesus so passionately, and longed that nothing would estrange these converts from the only path of righteousness, peace and joy.
These believers in John's day were surrounded on every side by objects of pagan worship and religious relics that were given equal importance with God or substituted for Him. But anything or anyone that lays equal or greater claim to our affection for Him, is no less an idol in our own lives.
Anything made or unmade, visible or unseen that is placed either before the Lord or alongside Him, is deemed to be an idol, for He will never share His honour with another.
Believers in John's day were surrounded by pagan deities and encircled by apostate temples of a multitude of gods and goddesses. But we are no different in this generation, when we place greater importance on the things of this world in preference to the rightful position in our own lives that the Lord Jesus demands from each of His blood-bought children.
We read the following words from a well-loved hymn: "The dearest idol I have known, whate’er that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee," which captures the essence of what comprises an idol in any age, for anything and everything, anyone and everyone that lays equal or greater claim to our affection for Jesus, is our own, personal idol.
But the same hymn spells out the wonderful remedy that helps us to guard against the erection of such idols in our own lives: "O for a closer walk with God, a calm and heavenly frame, a light to shine upon the road, that leads me to the Lamb!"
Heavenly Father, I know how easy it is for people and things, activities and customs, to creep into my life and push You from the throne of my life. Help me to stay ever close to You in thought, word, and deed, knowing that only as You are lifted up on the throne of my life, will the things of this world take their proper, subordinate place. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.