Skip to content

Mulled whine

October 14, 2009

I have been thinking/mulling/pondering — not to sound like that ludicrously hyperlexic volume known as the Amplified Bible — lately about the connection between self-love and idolatry. In what is one of the most thoughtful sermons I have heard in years, Pastor Don Lindblad probed the relationship between covetousness and idolatry. Stinging awareness spurred an inventory of my values and priorities, along with sad resignation to the fact that I will never in this life have a spiritual pantry swept clean of idols.

In the course of reading Sir Walter Scott’s Kenilworth, I recognized self-love as the linchpin that completes the unholy trinity with its subordinates covetousness and idolatry. The madness that we deserve power, fame, fortune, instant gratification of every whim, expensive stuff, the admiration and envy of others, and the right to be a thoughtless ass, is founded in nothing more or less than self-love, covetousness, and idolatry. Idolatry, as Pastor Lindblad said, is the fashioning of God in our own image. This is our rebel attempt to place God under our own power — nothing new there. What is more covetous than coveting the power of God? On our big screen of life, we see nothing but the self we should abhor, but which to us looks so radiantly glorious.

We would be worse, of course, but for common grace, God’s eternal provision of benefits on the just and unjust alike; or in other words, those who love him and those who love themselves far more. Those who love themselves more than God actually hate God, and they hate him because their shame occludes the difference between God and themselves. Shame makes us unwilling to confront our sin, and therefore makes us unavailable to repentance, and therefore unable to live to Christ. Humility is the key to repentance and thus to life in Christ, and I submit that humility is the opposite of shame. The more shame we have, the more stuff we need to pile on it, hoping that it will hide us, like the rocks and hills of Jerusalem, from the inevitable wrath of God. So perhaps common grace consists, among other provisions, in those momentary thrilling guest appearances of other people and their interests on those big screens of our lives, on which we are normally the sole attraction.

These are just some thoughts in progress. It takes consciousness, but not self-consciousness, to live to Christ. I can’t say I actually understand how this is possible. But I take great hope from friend Jeremiah: In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. (Jer. 23:20)

  1. October 14, 2009 12:09 pm

    Lauren I have been reading and rereading Colossians 3 lately, which says that covetousness is idolatry. Thanks very much for this help in understanding how to apply that more ruthlessly to my own covetous thoughts. I will refer back to it.

    I think lately that maybe if we learn to see that even our experience of our own guilt and sinfulness is, because of God’s electing love, an experience of His patience and goodness we perhaps begin to focus aright; to see Him as more fundamental than ourselves.

  2. October 14, 2009 12:30 pm


    Pastor Lindblad actually was drawing from Habakkuk where the equation is not so explicit as Colossians 3:5.

    I do think seeing Christ as the fundamental is the aspiration God instills in the hearts of his people, albeit for now through a glass darkly.

  3. techi33 permalink
    October 14, 2009 12:52 pm

    I am reminded of that old saying “To love others you must learn to love yourself” I think we all suffer from enough self love, although some more then others. Often I am reminded that in order to love others I must learn to love God. I think the more we learn to love Him the less we love ourselves. “He must increase, but I must decrease” John 3:30

  4. October 14, 2009 1:32 pm

    Hi techi,

    I’m thinking when we see him as he is, and we are with him where he is, we will at last be liberated from thinking of and loving ourselves, and free to love him without interference from ourselves. Love of God will finally be intrinsic to existence. Right now, love of God tends to be an afterthought, if a thought at all, as we dust off before the mirror.

  5. techi33 permalink
    October 15, 2009 6:14 am

    We are so limited by ourselves, and therefore incapable of loving Him they way He desires and deserves. Though we love, we love not nearly enough.

    I have ejoyed your blog very much. Thank you for sharing wisdom.

Comments are closed.