In Exodus 20, when God gives his people the Ten Commandments, he first tells them, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Then, immediately following this first commandment, the second flows from it, the prohibition of the making of any idol. God is making it clear from the outset that He alone is God and he will share worship with no one else.
Jesus, in Matthew 10:37, speaks in a similar way when he says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Why are Jesus’ words so shocking to our sensitivities? Because he is comparing family to idolatry!
We have difficulty seeing family as a false idol because the family is a God-ordained institution that is at the center of his plan and purposes to fill the creation with his glory. Yet, as Paul David Tripp often says in his books, “A desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.” Idols are sneaky. They lurk in our blind spots and like to silently move in undetected. But idols do not approach us from outside of us, but rather from inside of us, from our still-yet-to-be-completely-sanctified hearts.
Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung has recently written a blog post for The Gospel Coalition called, Are We Really in Danger of Making an Idol of the Family? It’s not a long article, and I recommend it to your reading. Good gifts from God are to be received with thanksgiving, but are never to be worshipped. Only God is to be worshipped, and only he can satisfy the longings of our hearts.