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November 17, 2023

The Idols Of Recreation And Money

If I have put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had secured so much; . . . that too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above.

–Job 31:24-25, 28

If we do not guard against it, Satan can use our freedoms to lure us away from Christ. For example, there are many Christians who allow their love for recreation to suddenly become an idol in their lives that takes them further and further away from God.

In Eugene Peterson’s memoir, the pastor talked about a couple in his church who faithfully attended worship every week. But one Sunday, Peterson noticed they were not there, and again the next Sunday, and the next. After six weeks, he went to visit them. The husband explained, “A few weeks ago on a whim that seemed totally spontaneous–I didn’t really think about it–I said to Betty, ‘I think I’ll go fishing today.’ . . . We drove to the Big Gunpowder River, and while you preached, I fished and Betty caught the emerging bloodroot and round-lobed hepatica blossoms with her watercolors. . . . We had abruptly, even though casually, interrupted a forty-year routine of Sunday worship and nothing happened. We didn’t feel guilty. We didn’t miss it. Lightning didn’t strike us. Everything was just the way it had always been. We didn’t intend to make a habit of it, but I guess we have.” The freedom they had in Christ suddenly became an idol to them and led them away from God.

Another freedom we have as Christians is money. Money can be used for great good, but it can also become an idol in our lives. Job 31 explains, “If I have put my confidence in gold, and called fine gold my trust, if I have gloated because my wealth was great, and because my hand had secured so much; . . . that too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, for I would have denied God above” (vv. 24-25, 28). He was saying, “If I have put my confidence in money, if I have gloated about the pile of money I have accumulated, that is the same as denying God Himself.” I read about a company that told its workers to tape a picture of a new lake house, a new car, or a new vacation spot on their refrigerators. And if they meditated on that thing they desired, it would motivate them to work harder. That is idolatry. That is allowing something other than God to captivate our thoughts.

What do money, recreation, and entertainment have in common? They are all freedoms we have in Christ that if we are not careful can wrap their tentacles around us and choke out our love for God. That is why we ought to use our freedom not to pursue sin but to pursue righteousness.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Ties That Bind” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Eugene H. Peterson, “The Pastor: A Memoir” (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2012), 201-2.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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