Exposing Hidden Idols
All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols... -Psalm 97:7
A verse like this makes me think of wooden figurines who squat on shelves with fat lips, bloated stomachs, and who hold bowls on tops of their heads. I saw one the other day when I passed by the open door of a Vietnamese nail parlor. A little Buddha sat on an altar sat behind the receptionist’s desk. It was draped in flowers, and surrounded by candles and incense.
We think we are too "contemporary" to take an idol like that seriously. But today's verse is not out of date. Idols put us to shame... whenever we feel ashamed.
Shame is what exposes the things you idolize. Imagine having coffee with a new friend. As the conversation flows, you feel witty and interesting. Your friend seems fascinated which only makes you pleased as punch with yourself. But then you knock your cup and spill coffee all over your white shirt. Everyone turns their heads, and instead of laughing it off, you feel stupid and silly. What a jerk I am! I want to crawl into a hole.
What idol did the feeling of shame and embarrassment expose? Pride in appearance? Smug self-confidence in conversational skills? An inflated idea of importance? You were hoping to come across as clever and winsome; but a little spilled coffee washed away your self-confidence, exposing a hidden idol. God has engineered our sense of shame to reveal those things, people, or vocations we idolize. But once our idols are unearthed, we can more easily do away with them.
The next time your cheeks turn red with shame, ask yourself, “What idol is my embarrassment revealing?” Once it’s knocked off the shelf of your heart, toss it. Keep your heart clean of idols. And then pray...
Father, forgive me for worshiping anything or anyone - especially myself - above you. Teach me to recognize shame as your way of exposing the idols in my life.