I have been reading a book called The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and it is AMAZING. If you’re not married, please don’t check out just yet. There are some ideas in this book that are completely life-changing that I wish I could have read years ago, even before I was married.
Many of us have heard numerous sermons or read articles about how we can make an idol out of virtually anything; about how if you really want to know what you worship, look at where all your time, money and energy goes. Look at what you think and talk about the most. That idea in itself is enough to occupy your mind for quite a while. You may have also heard that even good things can become idols, like excelling in a job or helping others or serving in church.
Martha Peace just takes it a little further, into a very uncomfortable but good territory. Here is her “List of Common Idols (‘False Gods’) Wives May Have Their Heart Set On”.
1. Good health
2. Physical Appearance
3. Having a Christian marriage.
4. Being treated fairly.
5. Having a hurt free/pain free life.
6. Worldly pleasures (drugs, alcohol, sex).
7. A child or children.
8. Another person (man or woman).
9. A material thing.
10. An ideal (“pro-life movement,” “peace movement”).
13. Others’ approval.
14. Being in control.
15. Having your “needs” met.
Talk about hard to swallow. A lot of things on that list do not necessarily have to be bad things. But when you desire those things above God, they become idols. One way Martha said to check yourself for if those things have crept up higher than God is to notice your emotions and reactions when those things don’t happen or aren’t going well. If you become very angry, or bitter, or say hateful things, or feel you have a right to act in an ungodly way when certain things happen, you have probably made an idol out of something. We need to get to a place where even when our best friend or husband has an off day and becomes a little bit of a jerk, (or even an OFF YEAR!), we need to remember we are responsible to God for our actions or reactions and that we can still show love. The ones that stuck out the most to me were having a christian marriage, being treated fairly, an ideal, others’ approval, and having your “needs” met. Which ones jumped out to you? Is your whole day ruined if you don’t get to gym? Do you get down on yourself for the donut you ate so much so that it affects your family? Are there people in your life that you put on a pedestal to where you change yourself around them or are completely crushed when they make a decision you don’t like? Do you question where God is when something difficult or painful comes up, forgetting that we will face suffering and persecution, or that hard does not equal wrong? Do you get anxious and irritable when you are not in control, and especially when the person who is in control handles a situation in a way you would not handle it? Anyway, you get the picture.
I will leave it with another list and a quote from Martha.
Her “List of False Saviors/Refugees”
1. Unbiblical view of God (“genie in a bottle obligated to grant your wishes”)
2. Sex (immorality, pornography, masturbation)
8. Withdrawing, running away.
9. Clinging to people for comfort.
10. Shopping sprees.
15. Ministry as an escape.
16. Being busy at church or volunteer activities.
There are a lot of people who look great on the outside: they are physically attractive, have a good job, find time to serve the community and get involved in ministry at church, shopping trips and rounds of golf, keep up on the latest TV shows… but they are completely starved in their relationship with God, and perhaps their family is starved for attention. A real relationship with God is volatile, ever-changing, challenging. Knowing of God is not enough. Believing in God is not enough. Singing about Him is not enough. Being at church every time the doors are open is not enough. Being able to recite the Bible is not enough.
Martha Peace says, “He wants your thoughts, motives, and choices to be focused on glorifying Him. He should be your greatest longing and desire and refuge.” thoughts, motives and choices. What does your thought life consist of? What are your motives for decisions? What will be easiest? How can I cause the least conflict? How can I make myself look generous but still be doing what I want to do? greatest longing and desire. What do you sit around dreaming about and longing for? A husband? A child? A certain home or vehicle? Certain actions from your spouse? Refuge. Think about how good it feels to sit in the corner of a coffee shop with a good friend on a cold day. A simple example, but do we really feel like that when we meet with God? Do we get excited for our time with God the same way we anticipate date night or girls night? These are tough questions to answer but I don’t think they are just hypothetical.
We live in a don’t wait, fast results culture. We live in a work yourself into the ground and run over everyone else to get to your goals kind of culture. I fully believe with everything in me that a real relationship with God is what we need. God made us with a specific goal in mind and He cares for the details of our life. He knows us better than we know ourselves including our scars and weaknesses. But if we always have other things that come first, or if we can’t turn off the noise of life long enough to really get to know Him, how will we ever know the joy and peace and benefits of knowing God and following Him?