Misplaced worship and unsatisfying idols

What do you worship? 

Few of us would admit to worshipping anything, unless we’re particularly religious.

But I have a theory that we all worship something, whether we identify as Jesus-followers or not.

Because worshipping is another way of saying ‘treasuring, prizing, and enjoying above all else’ – as John Piper writes here.

Here are some of the things we might treasure, prize, and enjoy above all else:

  • other people’s respect and praise
  • financial security
  • sport/ exercise
  • our spouse
  • our children
  • financial freedom
  • our ministry/ work for God
  • our friendships
  • our career
  • travel
  • spiritual experiences

and the list goes on…

But true worship, as God intended, means valuing HIM above all things.


If God is replaced by things, they become idols.

As A.W. Pink writes, an idol is “anything which displaces God in my heart”.

“It may be something which is quite harmless in itself, yet if it absorbs me, if it be given the first place in my affections and thoughts, it becomes an idol. It may be my business, a loved one, or my service for Christ. Any one or any thing which comes into competition with my relationship with God…”

And sometimes we find that, eventually, there’s a breakdown of some kind in that area of idolatry – whether our much-loved friend fails us, or our career takes an unexpected turn, or our children don’t meet our expectations in some way…

The thing is, it seems much easier to idolise things we can see, rather than the God we can’t see.

It’s normal to prize things like being well-liked, or making money, or building our own personal empires… because that’s how a lot of the world operates.

The harder thing is worship God – to take on a posture of adoration in our everyday lives – rather than allowing the things of this world to dominate.

When we idolise God, in his perfection… when we allow worship of him to take precedence over the things of this world… then those things take on a different meaning.

We still value them, but they don’t displace God in our hearts.

They don’t become our number one thing – our goal – our ultimate prize.

They’re the icing on the cake – but the cake is God!

When we allow him to become number one in our lives, everything else can be enjoyed through the lens of our relationship with him.

Not the other way ’round.

Lord, forgive me for the times I’ve put other things in the place where you need to be in my heart. I’m sorry. I often forget that you are enough – more than enough…

Help me to remember that gifts are not designed to be worshipped. Help me to worship you, the gift-giver, above all – the source of all life and all goodness – rather than the things you give me…


  1. Oh Ali . . .thank you for this . I am praying that prayer with you, for forgiveness for placing anything before Him. And for help to worship Him the way He designed me to. God bless you bunches!

    1. Amen, Debbie. We need to keep coming back to him and surrender those things don’t we? Thankfully he is loving and gracious and welcomes us back with open arms! God bless you dear friend.

  2. We must always stay in check in this area because we often make idols out of things without realizing we have done so. I couldn’t help but think when you quoted A. W. Pink about how deep his commentaries are. It made me curious who your other favorite authors may be.

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