Questions to Consider
•How is idolatry practiced today?
•What are some idols you make for yourself?
•How do you overcome idolatry?
•How does Jesus conquer idolatry in our lives?
Plan of Action
•Is there another person upon whom you have placed unrealistic expectations? Thank them and encourage them for what they have accomplished even though it did not match what you had expected.
•Under-promise and over-deliver! One of the reasons we disappoint people is because we promise too much. Don’t promise what you cannot offer.
In the 10 Commandments we read:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Exodus 20:4 (ESV)
In other words, do not make an idol for yourself. In the context of the Old Testament, these idols would come in the form of statutes made of wood or stone. They served a purpose similar to good luck charms. People hoped these idols would bring happiness and prosperity, but God knew that these idols did nothing other than lead people away from trusting in him.
Today we have different idols. We don’t often bow down to statues. Our idols come in different forms. Many of our idols come in the form of people. We put them on a pedestal they cannot live up to. Too often we expect more from others than they are able to give. The higher the pedestal we put them on, the further they have to fall.
Recognize that our disappointment in others is often because we are holding them to a higher standard than we hold for ourselves. We are good at practicing forgiveness towards ourselves when we don’t meet our expectations. We are not nearly as good practicing that same forgiveness towards others.
Consider some of the ways we unfairly put people on pedestals:
•We expect them to be gifted in every way. Sometimes our disappointment is because they cannot deliver in a substantial enough way. Because they are gifted in one way we assume them to be gifted in another way. People have different ways in which they are gifted. We see this in pastors. Your pastor may be a gifted preacher and teacher. But you get him in a one-on-one situation in a hospital where he does not excel the same way he excels in the pulpit.
•We expect them to be someone they are not. Another reason others disappoint us is because they are not the same person we miss or grieve. We talk about someone having big shoes to fill. That new boss is not your previous boss. Don’t expect them to be. They are their own person.
•We expect them to share the same affinities as us. Another reason people disappoint us is because we expect them to think like us. We expect them to hold the same opinions as us. We expect them to have the same affinities as us. But consider these differences in others to be an opportunity to sharpen us. Iron sharpens iron.
•We expect them to be perfect and never offend us. A final reason people disappoint us is we expect them to be without sin. We are somehow surprised when a skeleton is discovered in someone’s closet. Consider your own life if you have things you would rather remain hidden. If you do, you are not alone.
This is the reason God says you shall not make an idol. He knows every idol we make will eventually disappoint us. This command is given for our own welfare and benefit. The more we idolize, the harder it is to forgive. The harder it is to forgive the more weary and burdened our souls will be.