Combating Idols of the Heart

Combating Idols of the Heart

The Traps: The Past and the Future 

Make no mistake: there are things in our lives that cause us a great deal of trauma and pain.

  • The grief of losing a child or a friend.
  • The loss of a spouse to death or divorce.
  • Past stress and trauma that we relive on repeat.
  • Sexual abuse as a child, living with alcoholic parents, an abusive spouse, or our own sin and mistakes.

We find ourselves getting stuck in the past and reliving that pain over and over again.

You may feel that the pain just won’t go away—and finally get to the point where you hardly feel anything at all. We give lip service to saying we forgive those who hurt us and we are good with God and his plan for our lives, but the reality is, we don’t have the energy or hope to move forward.

Or perhaps you don’t go numb; you take the reins and try to “fix” your life. You begin controlling the people, places, and things that you experience. You wrap your identity in paying the bills, providing for college, getting the 401K as large as possible. You soon find that every moment of the day is replete with worry and anxiety that leaves you crippled.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.1% of adults between the ages of 18 and 54 are affected by anxiety disorders. That represents almost one out of every five people we encounter are dealing with anxious thoughts that affect their lives. Sadly enough, it seems most of what we find ourselves worrying about never becomes reality.

The Cure: Living in the Present

As we relive the past hurts over and over, or we get focused on controlling the future, depression, and anxiety both become idols of the heart. They keep us from experiencing God’s presence and the joy of walking in His control. Culture tells us that the causes of these idols are from outside; the Bible tells us that in the heart we store up both good and evil (Luke 6:45). James 1:14 tells us that the desire of our heart is what leads us to fall into temptation. The heart is active and drives our thoughts and actions. It drives our thought life.  Our mind is the battlefield under attack. Is there any hope for peace?

As the old song says, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” If my mind is the battleground, then my mindset is the key for my hope of living in His peace. I believe the answer lies in living in the present.

If my mind is the battleground, then my mindset is the key for my hope of living in His peace. I believe the answer lies in living in the present. Click To Tweet

For many, living in the present means more toys and more business. “If I fill my life with activity,” they think, “then I don’t have time to focus on the past or the future.” Unfortunately, collecting out cultural “toys” doesn’t provide a source of peace, rather, it becomes another idol of the heart.

The reality of living with Christ in the present provides a way to heal and forgive. It gives hope and peace for the future. A mindset on Jesus also allows us to forgive and not re-live the pain of the past. Jesus told His disciples, “If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit (John 15:5). In this sense, abiding—or remaining—could be resting in Christ and our relationship as a child of the King. In the present, our hope is to remain and rest in our relationship with Jesus. Our minds should be set on Christ.

The Process: Set Your Mind on Things Above

Paul said that we should “Set our minds on things above,” (Col 3:2) where Christ is. This mindset is a focus on the truth of God’s Word in the present. Paul also said “Don’t worry about anything,” (Phil 4:6) but went on to say that with a thankful heart we are to have a mindset on Christ. Then the peace of God that passes understanding will guard our hearts in Christ, because “the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

Ask yourself, “What is going on between my ears?” If the battleground is in my mind, then where is my mindset? Focus on Christ, His Word, the things of the Spirit in the present. Transform your mind to focus on Christ with every desire to look back or worry about tomorrow. As we change the way we think, we bear the fruit of abiding in Christ and the idols of the heart pale in the light of His glory and grace.

Anxiety Disorder Statistics. Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). - National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).Apr 25, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Russell Irwin is the Recovery and Member Care Pastor at Long Hollow.