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3 Signs the Person You Love Is an Idol

Alisha Headley

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Published: Jan 22, 2021
3 Signs the Person You Love Is an Idol

I’m sure most of us can all say we have some sort of passion and love in this life. For myself, I love pizza, and closely following that is my passion for working out—mainly so I can eat as much pizza as I want. I also love road trips and traveling. I have a love for all sports, having played them most of my life. I absolutely adore and am madly in love with my husband and sweet dog. I love and cherish my family. I’m in love with my Savior Jesus who saved me from pit. And in turn, I’m passionate about my career, in love with the fact that I get to partner with Him in ministry for His glory.

There is nothing wrong with having passions in this life. God made each of us unique. His “hands have made us and fashioned us” (Psalm 119:73). He made us to all have different passions. We are told from the time we were young, that if we love something or someone, we are to put our heart and soul into it, giving it our all. But if you’re not careful, that passion and love can become an idol. Idols enter our lives when we put other things or people before God. Idolatry is becoming so enamored, perhaps even obsessed, with something that you begin to idolize it.

As a believer, our one and only idol should be Christ Himself, the One enthroned above everything.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Idols Appear in Many Different Forms

Idols Appear in Many Different Forms

An idol is not just a gold image or a false god as they appeared in the Old Testament. An idol could be a person, an idea or concept. It could look like turning to the same person for advice every time life hits you with curve balls rather than turning to God. You’ve created that person you love to be the source of all your wisdom.

An idol could be putting all your heart into church events and ministry above putting your heart’s devotion into God Himself. Perhaps it’s your husband who you depend on to fulfill your needs, when he was never intended to fulfill those broken parts of you, and you’ve put him in the place of God. Maybe your idol is social media, your phone, and apps you look at for hours on end each day rather than spending time talking to God. Or perhaps your idol looks like an addiction to the gym, because you just can’t rest until you get that perfect body.

We must be aware of what we are putting before the Lord, what we choose to love before Him. In fact, the first and greatest commandment deals with idols directly.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/zenstock

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golden cow idol on white background, what is idolatry

Idolatry Has Been a Struggle for Mankind Since the Beginning

Do you know the Bible is one big love story about God pursuing His people? Pursuing them to turn then away from false idols and return to Him?

Idols have been a struggle for mankind from the beginning. Countless times in the Old Testament, the Israelites who saw the power of God firsthand still fell into the temptation of idolatry. God deemed Himself time and time again to be trustworthy. In fact, there isn’t a time in history when God wasn’t faithful to His promises.

This is why Paul mentions the Israelites in the New Testament when he writes to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 10:14, he urges them to “flee from idolatry.” He points out that the Israelites consumed the same spiritual food and drink as the Corinthians, and they still failed to please God because of falling into the sins of idolatry. Paul teaches the Corinthians to have caution so that they don’t fall into sin, just as the Israelites did from the very beginning.

We too need to take the same caution. It’s easy to say we trust God and serve him and him alone, yet, as people who live in a fallen world, we still have a tendency to turn to our own ways, creating idols in our life that can show up in a variety of forms.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Tuned_In

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hand holding red knit love heart at sunset

The First and Greatest Commandment

The very first commandment given in the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:2 is “thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” The Lord originally gave this commandment to the Israelites after He freed them from slavery in Egypt. He fulfilled His promise to His people being the faithful God He is, yet they began to worship gods of their own making over Him.

Not only is this the first commandment given, but it’s also the greatest commandment, according to Jesus in the New Testament. One of the Pharisees who was a lawyer asked Him what the greatest commandment was, and Jesus answered with saying, “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37).

In today’s society, making Him the only one you serve can look like putting Him first above your favorite tv show, your husband, your family, and your dreams. Putting Him first before your work, and all your decisions, large or small. Put Him first each and every day so no other love comes before Him.

Here are three signs that this love for someone may have become idolatry:

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Natali_Mis

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1. You Place More Faith in a Person Than in God

1. You Place More Faith in a Person Than in God

Do you depend on the advice of others over God’s wisdom? Idolatry is whatever claims the loyalty and glory that belongs to God. Remember, “the Lord your God is a jealous God” (Exodus 10:5). He is protective of what belongs to Him. He wants all of you, all your devotion. He loves you so much that He doesn’t want your partial devotion, or to let your heart fall into misplaced affections. He knows the damage it can cause you, and He loves you enough to invite you to place all your faith in Him. Not partial faith.

Making an idol of another person can be hard on them. Consider your own spouse. Your spouse is meant to be your partner on your journey to fulfilling God’s purpose for your lives. Your spouse is not meant to be your Savior. Perhaps you turn to your mother or close girlfriends for every major decision to give you guidance, and you prize their wisdom over the Lord’s. It’s not wrong—in fact it’s a gift—to have these people in your life to rely on, but take notice if you are putting the whole of your faith in them.

God wants your faith to be first and foremost grounded in Him.

Photo Credit: © Pexels

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couple backs to each other upset disagreement

2. You Find Your Worth in Someone Else

A sign that your love for someone may have become idolatrous is when you find your worth in another person. Does this person you love a powerful influence on the way you feel and think about yourself?

Perhaps their words and opinions don’t just hurt you, but they utterly destroy you. They knock you flat on the ground for days, months—perhaps you still harbor pain from what they said about you.

If our worth is tied to someone we love and their thoughts about us, we are idolizing their love for us, or lack thereof, over God’s never-ending love for you.(Psalm 136:1). We are putting their love for us higher than God’s love for us. Friends, the way our God loves us is indescribable. God’s love is so big for us that it can’t be measured. We were created, hand carved as His “masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10), by the God almighty who has given us extraordinary beauty, and immeasurable worth. For “He knows the number of the very hairs of your head… we are of more value than a whole flock of sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

Let’s makes sure we are finding our worth in God rather than finding it in someone else, and idolizing others’ love.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Prostock-Studio

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3. We Lose all Hope of Living without This Person

3. We Lose all Hope of Living without This Person

Love is a beautiful thing. Our love for others is an opportunity for those around us to experience a taste of God’s love for us. But, if this person you loved was taken away, or were to leave, could you still discern and believe in the love God has for you? Could you still see in yourself someone worth loving, who is still capable of loving others and returning God’s love? Could you still believe in a life worth living?

These are not easy questions. None of us may truly know how we would respond to a loss like this until the time comes. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t grieve, or to feel ashamed of working through difficult emotions when something is taken from us, but God’s word encourages us to hold onto him, and not despair of life when earthly loves are gone.

Remember that people in our lives whom we can love and be loved by are gifts from God. Likewise, our lives and the way we choose to love others can be a gift to them. But wherever the heart is concerned, we must make sure we allow God to take His rightful place, and then put those we love in their rightful places as well. God even tells us in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife, and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” God is saying that He should come first, above all else. To hate is saying all our other loyalties and idols should be secondary to our devotion to Christ.

Of course, I don’t ever want to lose those I love, but I know that I could find life again without them, as God is my first love, and my source of life.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images

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God as Our “First Love”

God as Our “First Love”

Those we love are a wonderful and precious gift. Their love can be shown to us in big ways. But we were created to always have a thirst for a kind of love that no human being or thing on this earth can ever fulfill. We should have only one Savior, and His name is Jesus. We should have only one first love, and His name is Jesus. We must begin to replace our idols with Jesus. Let’s make Jesus the One we turn to for wisdom, as our Defender, Teammate, Refuge, our Strong Tower. Let’s give up finding our love and security in others, making them our idols, and make God our first love, loving Him with all our heart, souls, and minds as He teaches us in Scripture. For His love and devotion in return for us is a love that can never be found elsewhere.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/aapsky

Alisha Headley is a writer + speaker who has a desire to meet the everyday woman in her everyday life with biblical truth. Stepping into her true calling, she left the corporate world behind as a former-financial VP to love on her family as a stay-at-home wifey + dog mama, while also being able to pursue her passion as a writer. Healing from a chapter of life consumed with lies she once believed about herself, she is inspired to point women to Christ to experience the freedom + power to overcome those lies with the truth written in God’s word. In her free time, Alisha enjoys road trips around the country, working out so she can eat her favorite foods, and creatively styling her outfits with a craft for fashion. Alisha is a proud wifey and dog mama living in Scottsdale, Arizona.

You can follow her blog by visiting her website or connect with her on facebook + instagram.

Originally published Friday, 22 January 2021.