This past Sunday night, we watched part of the video series on “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand.” The two things that stuck out to me the most that Paul Tripp said were: “Desiring a good thing can become a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing” and “Desires properly held are held with an open hand.”
In the popular story of Abraham being tested in Genesis 22, we see a perfect illustration of these two statements. For one hundred years, Abraham waited for the son that God had promised. And now God was asking him to sacrifice Isaac? Yet he proved that he loved God best by placing his son on the altar. He was ready and willing to carry out what God has asked of Him even though it didn’t align with his own desires and plans. He trusted God’s sovereignty and followed obediently even though I’m sure he didn’t understand God’s purpose. We see that he held this desire for a son with an open hand and that his love for Isaac (a good thing) was not a bad thing because it was not a ruling thing. Instead, his love for God was what ruled his life. Luke 22:42 also accurately describes these statements: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” These are the words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before His crucifixion.
John Piper describes an idolatry as “an act of loving too much what ought to be loved less.” Often our idols in and of themselves are good things. It’s when we place them above God and love them more than Him that they become idols. It’s not what we love but how much we love it.