Growing up, it always bugged me that the pagan rulers of Scripture could see the miracles of God, command that all the people of their nations worship Him, and then turn right back to their own gods.
And then something occurred to me: they never actually gave up their own gods.
In Daniel we see it the most profoundly. Over and over again God’s hand is powerfully seen in the lives of his servants. And, even in Daniel 4 we see Nebuchadnezzar profoundly humbled by God when he begins to think far too highly of himself. Once his sanity and power are restored, he gives glory to God.
But despite the glory Nebuchadnezzar and the other kings represented in Daniel give to the one true God, Almighty Creator of all in existence, they never let go of their other gods. They still worship them as well. They acknowledge God and His greatness. They worship Him. But, they do not give Him their hearts fully and completely.
They don’t fully surrender.
We immediately recognize the foolishness of such a choice. We realize that, in truth, there are no other gods. So, how can we worship what truly doesn’t exist? God is God. Period.
But, when we look deeper into our hearts, do we really act like He’s everything? Are our hearts really undivided in their worship?
In all honesty, it’s hard in the midst of our comfortable lives to know what lesser gods hold sway over our lives. But, stop and try to contemplate it for a minute. What things would be hard to give up? What material possessions? What loved ones? What freedoms? What privileges? What activities? If God were to say, “You must surrender ___________ in order to fully follow me in obedience,” what would fill in that blank for you? And, how hard would it be to surrender?
When I stop and truly consider my life, I realize I still cling selfishly to so many things. I cling to my time, my schedule, my convenience. I cling to putting my family first. I cling to my space and my comfort. My trusty computer and reliable internet. My full wardrobe. My freedom to homeschool my children. The ease with which I attend church.
How passionately do I cling to these things? How open am I to God’s nudges to use these things for His glory? How open are my hands? If I am clinging so tightly to these things that I don’t even recognize the ways God wants to use them in my life, then how am I better than Nebuchadnezzar? I’m not. I am dividing my heart between worship of God and worship of gods. And that division means that what I claim is worship of the one true God is not really true worship at all.
My friends, how we must guard our hearts! God has given us salvation, the one gift that we cannot live without. And yet, He has also blessed us in so many lesser ways. Our possessions, our freedoms, and our loved ones are all beautiful gifts from God. But, it is far too easy for our sin-inclined hearts to turn those precious gifts into gods of their own. May we never be so horribly divided! May we be true to the Giver, giving Him all glory for every gift – and holding each one so loosely that our hearts never worship wrongly.