What you love most will control your life. We humans can fall in love with almost anything: a person, place, pleasure, dream, career, money, knowledge, family, social status, chemical or emotional high—anything. If you want to know what you love most, just look at what your life revolves around. What have your calendar, bank account, and thoughts been centered on this month?
It is natural for you to praise, invest in, and give attention to your loves. God created you to be a worshiper. Worship is a natural response to someone or something that has captured your heart. You will serve what you love most. The only thing is, God created you to be a worshiper of Him. In fact, God commands you to love Him most.
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment." (Matthew 22:37–38)
God does not need your love—He is sufficient in Himself. God tells you to love Him most because He knows that it is the best thing for you. When He created you, God set eternity in your heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). You have eternal longings hardwired into you. You will never be truly satisfied in this life until these longings are filled.
What Do You Worship?
Misplaced worship is the spiritual problem at the heart of your struggles. An idol is anything that captures your heart above God. The desire of your human nature is to worship created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:20-25). But, when you treasure things of this world more than God, you will be left empty because of unsatisfied eternal longings. Trying to escape this emptiness by medicating your pain with things of this world instead of turning to God will only leave you addicted to your coping mechanisms, broken, and feeling more unsatisfied. Trying to fill eternal needs with anything other than a personal relationship with the one true eternal God is the pattern that leads to addiction, pain, and death.
When I first began to deal with my pornography addiction, I thought porn was my problem. I would do all that I could to battle thoughts and put protections in place so that I wouldn’t succumb to the temptation of porn. But despite all my efforts, my desires to view pornography would continue to return as strong as ever.
It wasn’t until I did a life inventory (mapping out the seasons, events, and life stages surrounding the times when I struggled most with pornography) that I discovered that my porn struggle was a symptom of a deeper heart issue. My inventory revealed that I struggled most during seasons when I feared failure, felt rejected, or strongly desired affirmation.
Coming from a prominent Christian family in our community, I had grown up craving the praise, approval, and affirmation of others. In fact, I structured my time and activities around things where I could be successful. Over the years, I built my identity and self-worth upon being successful, desirable, and admired in the eyes of others. When I wasn’t receiving the approval from others that I had built my self-worth upon in real life, I used pornography to fill the void. In a fantasy world of pornography, I was always pursued, desired, affirmed, and successful. My heart loved receiving affirmation from other people more that it loved God.
This was a huge enlightenment because I realized that no mortal human or fantasy world could ever satisfy my needs for eternal significance and love. Only God can do this. When I redirected my heart to God to meet these needs, He started to change my desires and give me freedom from my struggles.
Identifying Your Idols
One of the big goals of re:generation is to reveal the idols at the root of your struggles. When your idols are exposed, you can then take steps to reorder your priorities and redirect your heart to God. True recovery is not so much about managing your addiction but redirecting your heart to Christ—the One who eternally satisfies.
Consider these questions and fill in the blanks to help you identify some of your idols:
- Who or what (besides Christ) dictates the decisions you are making right now?
- Who or what do you rely upon for security, affection, acceptance, meaning, approval, satisfaction, and protection?
- What do you get overly emotional or defensive about?
- Where do you seek acceptance or try to avoid rejection the most?
- What controls your thoughts, emotions, time, activities, finances, and attention most? (Hint: examine your calendar and expenditures this past month.)
- Jesus + _______________ = I’m okay.
- I cannot be content if I don’t have ___________________________.
Do you have certain answers that keep coming up? An idol can be anything—even a good thing—that we look to for life from apart from Christ. For you, is it a person or relationship? A position, achievement, or outcome? Approval, affirmation, or being right? A number in your bank account or IRA? A specific clothing size or weight on the scale? Someone else’s happiness? Your child or your child’s success? Your health? A comfort, pleasure, or dream?
None of these things will ever satisfy the eternal longings of your heart. God loves you and He created you to love Him most. Turn your heart to Him through Christ so that His eternal love can set you free (Psalm 103:2-5).