2Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. -Genesis 35:2-4 (KJV)
Genesis 35 gives the account of a high point in the life of Jacob of the Old Testament. Following a tumultuous time of family strife and fighting with their neighbors God told Jacob to gather his family and go to Bethel. While there Jacob told his family and everyone in his household to get rid of all their idols. Even though Jacob was a strict follower of God there were those in his house who still worshipped the old gods of the peoples around them. If they were going to live under the blessings of Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then they must be totally committed to Him. Trying to keep their old idols would only hinder them and keep them from receiving God’s blessings.
This cleaning out process is good to think about this time of year. We are about to close out 2011 and begin a new year. If you are like me you may have some closets, a basement, or a garage desperately in need of reorganizing. Un-cluttering our lives can be a tedious process, yet we always benefit from it. Someone has said un-cluttering our lives is an energizing pursuit and I agree completely. Getting rid of clutter from our desks, closets, bedrooms, and garages is an extremely rewarding endeavor. We can’t help but feel we have accomplished something positive when we get rid of the stuff we do not need.
Getting rid of the idols in our lives is also a rewarding practice. These idols can crop up and work their way into our lives and create all sorts of problems. The problems idols create for us can involve discouragement, worry, resentment, and weak faith. Giving our idols over to the Lord is a powerful first step toward walking in spiritual victory. What is hindering your walk with the Lord and keeping you from receiving the full benefit of His blessings? It can range from anything to a bad habit, such a gossip, to a destructive addiction such as alcoholism. Whatever the idol is we do well to remove it.
Jacob’s problems didn’t end when the idols were buried, yet it was a positive first step. We too benefit when we hand over to God anything which is holding us back in our relationship with Christ. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is getting rid of clutter in your house then consider also getting rid of whatever may have become a spiritual idol. God is faithful and He will empower us and bless our desire to live in His blessings. Do not be sorrowful that 2011 is over. Instead, be joyful over all the possibilities the Lord is going to provide in the coming year.