They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images, “You are our gods.” Is. 42:17

My daughter and I had watched a history program the night before, showing scenes froom the Old Testament. Included was the story of  three Hebrews living in captivity, refusing to bow down to the king’s image. It was moving to see a visual representation of their obedience to God’s commandments.

The next evening, she and I were watching one of those “extreme coupon” shows. My daughter was interested, especially since I am a pretty devoted couponer myself! But I saw some disturbing things from these shoppers. They were rude and inconsiderate to those around them, all in the name of “saving money.” One mother refused to play with her children at the beach, because she was too busy clipping coupons. One teenage boy forced his family to “dumpster dive” because he “needed” 200 razor coupons and only had 198! A wife yelled at her husband because he pulled some of the over 200 bottles of barbeque sauce she was buying from the shelf individually, instead of grabbing whole cases.

And then there was the woman who had hundreds of boxes of feminine products, who would never use them – she had had a hysterectomy. There was no mention of whether she was planning on donating them to a women’s shelter. She was just planning to buy a bigger storage building to hold more stuff.

My daughter said, “Mom, you don’t do coupons nearly like those people do!” I pointed out to her that couponing (like a lot of things in life) can be a good thing. It isn’t wrong to try to be a good steward of the resources we have. There is nothing evil about getting good deals on products that will help our family, or even others we donate to. But there are good things in life (like coupons, or jobs, or people) that can become idols if we let them.

Building a statue isn’t a sin. It wasn’t wrong for the Old Testament kings to have artwork commissioned. Where the evil came in was what was done with those sculptures. And when we let those things God has blessed us with become our focus, and an excuse to misuse and mistreat others, they become what we worship. Anything we put before God and His purpose in our lives can become an idol.

My prayer is that God helps me to recognize His blessings in my life, and that I will focus on the Giver, the Creator, the Lord of all – and not bow down to the gifts.

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