I have a treat for you. We are going to start off 2016 with a little house cleaning. Guest blogger, Julie Neils, helps us identify our idols and then get rid of them. Julie honestly shares her idols and challenges herself and us (her readers) to take a close look at what we worship.
Conflict is inevitable in any household. There are seven members in our family so there are lots of daily skirmishes and a few big battles too. No matter what the fight is over, it’s never fun.
I’ve been digging a bit deeper on resolving conflict biblically. I ran across James 4:1-3:
“What causes fights among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something, but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
The hard truth is that the desires James speaks of — even the good ones — often become the controlling and dominant force in our lives. Once they’ve been elevated to the place God should hold, they become idols. That’s when we start pressuring those around us to bow before them as well. Hence, the origins of conflict.
So I started thinking about mine and how they contribute to the conflict within my soul before conflict with those around me is even born.
Like when I get upset with my 3-year old because she embarrasses me by throwing a fit in the grocery store. No parent wants to deal with a temper tantrum in front of a million people and most want to be conscientious and thorough. If I’m really honest, though, sometimes I’m really angry because I want others to think I’m a great mom. My little one’s temper tantrum just doesn’t fit into that.
I worship my idol of good parenting.
Then there’s my shameful impatience with my 12-year old in the midst of her ongoing struggle with math. We all want our kids to excel in school, but the truth is I get angry because I want my friends to think I’m a good homeschooling mom. My child’s slow progress with math just doesn’t promote that image.
I worship my idol of good homeschooling.
I hate to admit it, but my anger at my husband for a laundry list of things that often encompasses him not doing laundry or other things isn’t just typical marital frustration. Every wife wants help around the house (And for the record, my husband does!), but often I desire an unrealistic, Pinterest-perfect house.
I worship my idol of good housekeeping.
The ugly truth is that what I’ve often valued and worshiped most is myself.
My idols — good parenting, good homeschooling, and good housekeeping — are often born of and built to my own pride.
In and of themselves, none of are bad, but they were desperately out of order in my life.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said of the Old Testament graven images, “False gods patiently endure the existence of other false gods. Dagon can stand with Bel, and Bel with Ashtoreth; how should stone, and wood, and silver be moved to indignation; but because God is the only living and true God, Dagon must fall before His ark; Bel must be broken, and Ashtoreth must be consumed with fire.”
Only one God stands alone.
The rest must bow at His feet.
The truth is painful, though sweet in the end. Transformation is often gradual, but ultimately worth it. God is in the process of reordering my life — putting my desires in their appropriate place rather than giving and demanding servitude to them.
Conflicts still arise around our house and to some degree, always will. We are individuals and a family in progress and the stretching and the growing is good. May God, who stands alone, take His rightful place in our house and most importantly, in our hearts, as we do.
Julie Neils is passionate about living a real life in a fabricated world. It’s what gets her up out of bed in the morning. That and five kiddos under the age of twelve who need to be homeschooled. She’s addicted to coffee because she used to live in Panama where great coffee is grown. She’s also a regular contributing writer at Ungrind.org, a webzine to encourage women. She was the Media Manager for Focus on the Family and has spent more than fifteen years advising ministry leaders, policy makers and authors on relevant, out-of-the-box communications strategies. She and her husband live in the Rocky Mountains. You can read more of her writing here: http://ungrind.org/author/julie-neils/.