Love People, Not Their Idols

It’s easy to confuse loving a person with loving a person’s idols.

We typically make this mistake when someone loses something or wants something.

This happens all the time in Christian circles.

Your friend Joe loses his job and immediately everyone prays for Joe to get a new job. This is a good thing to pray for, ultimately Joe does need a job. But, Joe is a man who finds all of his identity from his work. Joe is a guy who has put his job at the center of his life instead of God. Joe’s ultimate need isn’t a new job to fill the void in his life, it’s for his life to begin to orbit around Jesus.

A better way to love Joe would be to address what he really needs, to see this job-less season as an opportunity for him to mature in Christ–to find his identity in the gospel, not in his work. A season for idolatry to shrink in his life and for true worship to grow.

I believe that you can’t love a person well unless you know their idolatry well. Pay attention to what people lose and what people want. Sometimes it’s healthy to immediately seek to replace one’s loss and fulfill one’s wants, but oftentimes when we support, pray for, and seek these things we’re not really loving someone, we’re simply feeding their idolatry.

Beware of polishing people’s idols.

05. May 2011 by Justin Buzzard
Categories: Leadership | 7 comments

Comments (7)

  1. We call it “polishing one another’s idols,” and the sad part is that I’ve spent years doing this for people!

  2. This is a tough one! What you say is truth. Sometimes isn’t it the case though that we need to address “felt” needs before dealing with “real” needs? Jesus sometimes did it in that order. I’m not suggesting ignoring the idol, but dealing with it and getting to the root.

  3. Great insight. Also makes me think of all the time at Bible Studies we spend praying about hangnails of the unsaved, stubbed toes and every ailment known to man, while ignoring spiritual needs. Idol identified. Health and Comfort are not in the same category as salvation.

  4. thanks – this is a welcome exhortation

  5. “You can’t love a person well unless you know their idolatry well”. this is were “accountability” has to start at. Without an understanding of specifically where the gospel needs to seep into a person, law can easily slip in. Great post, thanks!

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