Exposing the Idol of Self

By Jana White 
Editor for The Daily Grace Co. 

I polled some of my sweet church friends and asked them what the Lord has been revealing to them in these days we are finding ourselves limited and at home. They were so kind to be vulnerable in their sharing. As I looked at my list and aligned mine to theirs, I started determining the root of all of the sins and idols we had listed. I realized that at its core was one ugly idol—one that is uncomfortable for us to deal with. That idol is our own selves. 2 Timothy 3:2 talks about the last days (as we study the Bible, we know that the last days are any days between the resurrection and Christ’s 2nd coming). Paul is writing to Timothy, and he tells him, “people will be lovers of self.” As Augustine vividly described it, we are curved inwardly on ourselves, rather than “outward” for God and others. In some ways this is the root of all sins, but it manifests itself in many different ways.  

Maybe for some of us, we struggle with the idol of control. We want to do things our own way. We want to be in charge of our schedules, and so we find ourselves in this season being frustrated because we are not able to do what we want to do. For those of us who are working at home, that may reveal itself in our response to our children when they interrupt our work time. Maybe we find ourselves wanting to control our health, thinking if we do a, b, and c, then nothing bad will happen to us. We do what we think is right in light of Covid-19, and we look down on those who do not follow suit.  

Maybe it is an idol of comfort. We want to be in our routines around our friends, family, and church family because it makes us feel good about ourselves. We have set ourselves up in a life of comfort, and now that those comforts are taken away, it may leave wrong desires and fulfillments in our hearts exposed. Pay attention, dear sister, how that feel of comfort was fleeting. 

Maybe for you, you have a struggle with jealousy. Maybe you are asking the questions, “Why do I have to be alone in this season?” You may find yourself jealous of those who are married and those who have children in the home. For those who are married and still have spouses going into work, maybe you have seen jealousy in your hearts as they get to come and go each day, some even primarily sticking to the same schedules, and that root of jealousy breeds discontentment and bitterness in your heart. 

Or lastly, maybe it manifests itself in thoughts of wanting people to reach out to you, and when whatever expectation you have in your mind is not met, you are left feeling unwanted and unloved. When we struggle with this, we may also find that our normal lives look like busying ourselves around people who make us feel good, which leaves little time to do some hard work in our own hearts. With this being stripped away during this season, what feelings are being revealed?  

Romans 1:25 tells us that “they have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Friend, these sins expose our hearts. It exposes the idols of ourselves. We have worshiped ourselves rather than God, the Creator, the only One worthy of worship. These are things the Lord is kind to reveal to us all the time but especially in this season. 

I want us to take a look at a loved Disney movie (We are at home a lot, and we are thankful to have access to Disney+). 

In the movie, Mulan, we learn of a young, beautiful girl who joins the Chinese military to protect her aging father from being drafted. In doing so, she challenges the roles of gender in her culture. She disguises herself as a man and assimilates in with the other trainees. Her impersonation works until she saves Shang and is shot in the stomach. To treat the wound, they have to undress her, and it is there they discover that she is truly a woman. 

Why do I tell you this synopsis of Mulan? Because I think it is exactly a picture of what is happening in our hearts as our sin and idols are being exposed. 

At that point, Mulan can no longer go back to disguising herself without anyone knowing she is really a girl. The recruits no longer think of her in the same way. Shang certainly does not think of her in the same way, and for the good of the story, he is never able to look at her as she once was. 

This should be true for us. God has stripped away all the busy-ness (I know for some of us life still feels busy, but there is a lot taken off our calendars, so in some form or fashion, He has freed us up). We can no longer hide behind our schedules, rushing from here to there or ignoring the painful truths about ourselves that we need to deal with before the Lord and see repentance, forgiveness, healing, and restoration. 

Oh, God, expose our hearts and leave us so wrecked that we are unable to go back. We plead with you, Lord, to expose us for who we really are. We are sinners in ever need of Your grace and mercy in our lives. Oh Spirit, come and work in us. Change us for the glory of the Father and the sake of the kingdom. 

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