How is your heart?  We don’t think about it much do we?  It usually takes a sickness or something not working right with our bodies before we even stop to consider our heart.   I have two friends who found out that their heart has an irregular heartbeat.   They have “a-fib,” atrial fibrillation.  Because their hearts are not properly functioning, they lack energy, which affects their whole lifestyle.  This condition is not fatal, but it does put them at risk for other medical complications and clearly hampers their productivity.  Both are receiving medical treatment, but at the current time their hearts are not in proper rhythm.  So how is your physical heart?  When is the last time you had it checked out?

The harder question is, how is your spiritual heart doing?  We know that our hearts are created to worship.  God wants us to love and worship him with all our hearts.  Though our hearts have been redeemed and transformed by the completed work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, they are still deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and are idol factories.  Our hearts are always seeking someone or something to worship.  “Worship is like a fire hose that has gotten stuck in the ‘on’ position and is endlessly shooting water out with great force.  We must decide where to aim the hose.  That is choosing the focus of our worship” (Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, Gospel Coach, Zondervan, 2012, p. 83).

Since our hearts are deceitful, how do we really know what our hearts are truly worshipping?  In fact, we have blind spots that keep us from recognizing and dealing with what is really going on in our hearts.   Many times we do not realize that our heart needs special attention until other symptoms appear in our lives.  Our heart is worshipping idols that suck out our love for God and interfere with the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The condition of our heart will directly affect our walk with Jesus, our love for our heavenly Father, and will leak into all areas of our lives and ministry. How do we know when our hearts is following an idol?    God recently showed me, in a time of testing that caused much personal anxiety and fear, that I needed to repent of two idols. They were revealed as I did some deep soul searching and had some godly men speak honestly into my life.  So what are some general symptoms that may reveal that I may be dealing with a heart idol?

  1. How do you respond to people or circumstances in your life?  If it’s with anger, impatience, conflict, anxiety, fear, or frustration, look for idols.
  2. What are you going after?  What is driving you? If it is not God alone through Jesus Christ alone, look for idols.

If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, do some deep soul searching.  Use the idol-exposing questions (see attachment below) to help you examine your heart, and have at least one godly friend or coach speak into your life.  If God reveals an idol, repent and then determine ways to make sure that your fire hose of worship is truly fixed on God.  Guard your heart (1 John 5:21).

Idol-Exposing Questions
Thoughts from Tim Keller
Gospel Coach by Thomas and Wood (especially ch 4-5)
Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande (especially ch 5)