“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” –1 John 5:21 nkjv
An idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of God in our lives. What things can potentially become idols in our lives?
Some people worship their own bodies. There are people who worship at the Church of the Perfect Physique. This means there is never quite enough exercise, weightlifting, running, etc. It can become addicting. There, of course, is a place for physical exercise, and some Christians could use a lot more of it. As J. Vernon McGee once said, “The only exercise some Christians get is jumping to conclusions and running down others.”
Paul put it in perspective when he wrote to Timothy: “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it” (1 Timothy 4:8–9 nlt).
The unobtainable you. Some people become completely obsessed with their appearance, trying to attain some kind of perfection. Some girls are trying to be something that is not attainable. In a recent survey, 94% of girls under the age of 18 said they wished they were more beautiful, and at the same time, 85% of women over the age of 40 claim that they are not as attractive as the average woman.
One reality TV star had 10 plastic surgery procedures done in one day; she was only 23 years old. She said in an interview afterwards, “I am beyond obsessed.” Again, as with physical exercise, there must be a balance. There is nothing wrong with a Christian girl wanting to be attractive, but she must simply keep her priorities straight.
The right balance. The Bible tells us that girls should dwell more on their inner beauty, rather than their outer beauty.
The apostle Peter helps us find the balance when he writes: “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:3–4 nlt).
Let’s keep the Lord at the forefront of our lives, and put our spiritual needs before our physical wants. This is what Jesus meant when He said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matthew 6:33).
In other words, seek God’s rule and reign ahead of anything else in your life.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!