7. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when it awakens a sense of pride that we can experience this delight while others can’t. This is especially true of delights in religious things, like prayer, Bible reading and ministry. It is wonderful to enjoy holy things, but it is idolatrous to feel proud that we can.
8. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when it is oblivious or callous to the needs and desires of others. Holy enjoyment is aware of others’ needs and may temporarily leave a good pleasure to help another person have it. One might leave private prayer to be the answer to someone else’s.
9. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when it does not desire that Christ be magnified as supremely desirable through the enjoyment. Enjoying anything but Christ (like his good gifts) runs the inevitable risk of magnifying the gi ft over the Giver. One evidence that idolatry is not happening is the earnest desire that this not happen.
10. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when it is not working a deeper capacity for holy delight. We are sinners still. It is idolatrous to be content with sin. So we desire transformation. Some enjoyments shrink our capacities of holy joy. Others enlarge them. Some go either way, depending on how we think about them. When we don’t care if an enjoyment is making us more holy, we are moving into idolatry.
11. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when its loss ruins our trust in the goodness of God. There can be sorrow at loss without being idolatrous. But when the sorrow threatens our confidence in God, it signals that the thing lost was becoming an idol.
12. Enjoyment becomes idolatrous when its loss paralyzes us emotionally so that we can’t relate lovingly to other people. This20is the horizontal effect of losing confidence in God. Again: Great sorrow is no sure sign of idolatry. Jesus had great sorrow. But when desire is denied, and the effect is the emotional inability to do what God calls us to do, the warning signs of idolatry are flashing.
For myself and for you, I pray the admonition of 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
- John Piper