Monday, 11 June 2012

You're Walking on My Idol

What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  James 4:1-2

In his book Gospel Centered Marriage Tim Chester has a great line.  He says, “One of the great things about marriage is that God throws a fellow sinner into close proximity to us so that they walk all over our idols.”

You may be quick to say, “but I don’t have any idols” and I would be quicker to say – “yeah right!”  We all have idols.  James uses a much kinder word, i.e. “desires”.  Now desires in and of themselves are not necessarily bad or idols.  Paul Tripp puts it this way, “a desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.”
Tim follows with a very good example:

I have a desire for order.  That’s a good desire.  It makes our family run well.  But that desire can be idolatrous.  Sometimes my wife puts things away in the wrong place.  It’s a small thing.  But it annoys me.  I get frustrated.  That frustration is the sign that something is wrong.  The bad fruit in my behavior is a sign of a bad root in my heart. (Luke 6:43-45)  It might mean that what I really want is for life to be ordered my way…”

Tim then offered some “x-ray questions” that can help each of us get real about our own idols.

1.    When do you respond badly to your spouse?  What triggers your response?  Can you spot any patterns?  Identifying the points at which you get angry or bitter or resentful enables you to you to think about what you want in that situation.

2.    How do you respond badly?  Do you yell; say something sarcastic; or withdraw?  You may appear calm on the outside but your inner attitude provides the clue.

3.    What happens when you act badly?  Be honest with yourself.  Be willing to explore the results of your “bad” behavior.  What affect is it having on those around you?

4.    Why do you act badly?  James tells us that our behavior is caused by the desires within.

So if you ever get frustrated, irritated, angry, impatient (this list is endless) there is a very good chance there is an idol lurking under the surface.
Tim’s three step process for overcoming these desires:

1.    Ask God to show you the idolatrous desires that cause  your behavior.

2.    Humble  yourself before God

3.    Repent of your desires and behavior

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