Do not make an idol for yourself, whether anything in the shape of the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sins, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
–Exodus 20:4-6 The Second Commandment
The idols we set up for ourselves are guaranteed to influence others and this is born out in both scripture and experience. The “gods” we serve in our selfishness impact the people around us. Listen, when a man chooses Internet pornography over purity, it influences his relationship with the women in his life–married or not. When a wife makes an idol out of her career, it influences her relationship with her husband. When a parent makes an idol out of the television, or a job, or sports, or even ambition for their children, those children feel the influence. And never, NEVER, is that influence positive. What keeps you from God will inevitably do the same for others. The example you set by the choices you make say something to the people around you that is often louder than words. They reveal the depth of your faith, your character, and your personality in a way you simply cannot hide. More frightening still, people are waiting to see if the God you serve really is as good as advertised, able to make a difference, worthy of their trust. Not all people ask the questions, but some of them do, and someone is always watching.
It was a long time ago, but I do remember being in college and feeling the intense need to have fun every weekend (some things never do change). And every Friday and Saturday night we stayed up into the wee hours of the morning hanging out, playing games, watching movies, and generally doing everything we could to really squeeze the marrow from our college experience. And every Sunday morning I woke up and asked myself if I really had the energy or desire to worship the Lord in church. Most Sundays I dragged my weary carcass in a minute or two after the service started, and left as quickly as I could. There were definitely a few though that saw me at Bedside Baptist, listening intently to Pastor Pillow. The running joke is that I named my bed “The Word,” so I could always say that I spent a lot of time in The Word during those times. Cheesy, I know, but my relationships with friends became an idol, keeping me–and often them–from a better walk with God.
So here’s the deal, consider your life. You may have things–relationships, activities, interests or even material objects– that you already know are keeping you from a better relationship with God. Ditch ‘em. Seriously. Let. Them. Go. And see what God does.