Matthew 8:18-22

Small Group Lesson:

 Jesus calls those who would become his disciples to put God above everything else. In Matthew 8:18-22 he called two would-be disciples to put following the Son of God over comfort (8:20) and family (8:22). As was discussed in the sermon, putting anything above God is “idolatry.”

Read Exodus 20:1-6

Literally speaking, praying to, hoping in, trusting, and worshiping false gods and idols (example: Buddha or Amaterasu) is the sin of idolatry. As Christians, we must completely turn away from trusting in and practices related to idols. We are monogamously devoted to the one true God; idolatry is adultery against God (Hosea 4:12).

Furthermore, we turn anything into an idol if we prioritize it, love, it, desire it, fear it more than God. This means that even good things like family, work, money, entertainment, or security can become idols in our hearts if we put them above God.

As Christians, we need to regularly turn away (repent) from idols and turn toward (trust) God as our ultimate sources of happiness, satisfaction, and life. In order to do this, we need to identify what we are idolizing in our hearts.

Read the following list out loud.

“Life only has meaning/I only have worth if…  

  •  1....I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)  
  •  2....I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)  
  •  3....I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)  
  •  4....I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)  
  •  5....I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)  
  •  6....people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)  
  •  7....someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)  
  •  8....I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)  
  •  9....I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)  
  •  10....I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)  
  •  11....I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)  
  •  12....I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)  
  •  13....This one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)  
  •  14....I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)  
  •  15....My race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)  
  •  16....A particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)  
  •  17....My children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)  
  •  18....Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)  
  •  19....I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)  
  • political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)  
  •  21...I am able to worship a statue, my ancestors, a pagan god, or a pagan religion. (Literal idol worship.)

With which of these idols are you struggling?  
Looking even deeper into our hearts, we will realize that most of our sinful actions are rooted in something we are idolizing in our hearts. For example, one person might be greedy with money because he wants to buy new things to enjoy—he has an idol of comfort. Another person might be greedy with money because she wants to have a financial safety-net—she has an idol of security. In fact, the idols in the list above and the daily sins we struggle with are motivated by one of the four root idols in the following chart.

Look at the following chart. Which of these idols are you most prone to be tempted by?  

These idols promise to make us happy but they never give us lasting happiness or true life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). As we turn away from idols we turn toward God, who alone gives us full and lasting life.

Look at the following list.

  • Power Idolatry - Remember and believe: “God is glorious, so I don’t have to produce results.”
  • Approval Idolatry - Remember and believe: “God is gracious. so I don’t have to prove myself.”
  • Security Idolatry - Remember and believe: “God is great, so I don’t have to be in control.”
  • Comfort Idolatry - Remember and believe: “God is good, so I don’t have to look elsewhere for comfort, peace, and fulfillment.”

Which of these aspects of God’s character is particularly good news to you right now?  
Summary: Turn away from empty idols and turn toward our great, glorious, gracious, and good God.

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