A mom looked embarrassed and frustrated as she searched for gifts to donate to a shelter. Her young son whined and cried, “I want that! Why do you have to give it to other kids? It’s for me!” The mom calmly tried to explain that these gifts were for children who didn’t have “ANYTHING,” then the little boy stared right into his mommy’s eyes and said, “You don’t love me if you won’t buy that for me!”
I wish this was a story about a random family at Wal-Mart, but it’s my story. It’s my experience shopping with my own children. God was starting to work in my heart about my own desire for “things,” but when packaged in the body of a 3 year old… the sin was disgusting. His selfishness exposed a deep idol that I was teaching him to worship. I like to call it the Real “American idol”. The American Idol is a false god embodied in the “American dream” and the show “American Idol.” It’s a desire to have the best for oneself. It’s pride that says, “I deserve to have everything I’ve ever dreamed of immediately, because I deserve to be a super star! After all, I am pretty amazing, right?” It’s that deadly mixture that worships physical things and comfort.
I am definitely a worshipper of the American Idol. Whether it’s something in the dollar bin or a new app, I don’t force myself to forgo any earthly pleasure. I live a life of constant indulgence of the flesh, and I am raising my children to worship that “god.” How do I know? Because here in the store, he associated love with having that “one” thing. He knew it was selfish, but he didn’t care.
As I drove home that day, I contemplated his heart and my own. I begged God to show me all the ways I was teaching my son selfishness, and I tried to show him the wickedness of his heart. I couldn’t think of a biblical example at the time, so I told him the true story of Saint Nick and the fictional story of the Grinch, then asked him,
“Eli, who did what God would want them to do?” He quickly responded, “Saint Nick.” So I proceeded, “and who are you like? The Grinch or Saint Nicholas?” His entire countenance changed; he was broken over his sin. “I’m like the Grinch mommy.” Now, he was ready for the Gospel!
I know that day has stuck with him, because every so often he brings it up. Ironically, that day revealed more to me about my own heart than it did about his heart.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. // 1 John 2:15
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