Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
- 1 John 5:21 (NIV)

Finishing up his writing, the author gives one last warning to followers of Jesus. At the very end, he tells them to keep themselves from idols. It seems pretty random, especially since this is the only time the word “idol” is used in this letter, but it makes sense when you understand that this letter centers around loving God. Love for God is the focal point of 1st John and is revealed by having a correct understanding of Jesus and a deep love for other people. Therefore, it makes sense for us to keep ourselves from idols because idolatry directly competes with our love for God.

We have one throne in our heart, and God is made for it. However, different things in our life can compete with His position. Sometimes the biggest blessings in life can become an idol if we don’t check our heart. For example, too many people make an idol out of their career or their relationship, and it takes their focus away from Jesus. In order to “keep ourselves from idols” the things that we enjoy in life should lead us into praise and gratitude for God instead of distraction and forgetfulness.

Unpacking what it means to have an idol in your life might be hard. But the goal is simple: love God and prioritize Him. We don’t necessarily need to throw out the areas of life that compete with this desire, but we do need to address them. If there’s an area in our lives that we think about a lot and haven’t surrendered it to the Lord, we need to take an honest look at our hearts and give it to God.

“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” A short verse and simple message with a profound impact on our lives. I pray that each of you take the time to process with God and see if there are any idols in your life that might be distracting you from Him. Let gratitude and surrender lead the way to loving God in all things and prioritizing Him in your life.

- Tim del Risco