What is idolatry and how do we define it?

I believe idolatry is the act of putting something or someone before God in our thoughts or hearts by obsessing over or being consumed by it. This idol can be your job, money, a sport or hobby, a relationship, or a physical problem; anything that we put before God.

Exodus 20:3-6 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve (worship) them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

What are some of the things I have put before God? In the past, I have put my children, my husband, tennis, and what others think of me before God. In fact, I became consumed with them. But, why? I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility; I was a people pleaser due to my fear of rejection and abandonment. I was plagued with unhealthy relationships that caused me to put others needs above even my own self-care. I obsessed over trying to control things because I did not trust God. I was fearful to put Him first; not being in control was a scary thought for me.

It was only after I learned to relinquish control to God (Step 1) and admit my life had become unmanageable, that I started learning what it looked like to trust God. I learned to release individuals and situations into His capable hands, which freed me from carrying these burdens and feeling personally responsible for way too many things. I learned that God wanted to be first in my life. Reading His word and meditating on scripture first thing in the morning became a daily habit for me. I look forward to that special time each morning with Him and Him alone.

I learned what co-dependency was and how I was so intertwined with others’ lives that I could not detach myself from them. Their lives affected mine too much. I had to step back and allow them to make their own decisions, learn from their mistakes, and to experience consequences for their own actions. I no longer had to jump in to fix, rescue, or save others. I learned I am not God; I cannot control another person. I grew up believing I had the power to make people happy or sad by my words and actions, that was a lie from the devil. I never had that much control. Once I realized this, I surrendered to God and gave Him all the people and situations in my life that I had tried to control. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was responsible only for myself.

Let me ask you what are some idols in your life?

Why have you not released them into God’s capable hands?

What are you afraid of?

I pray that this topic has given you awareness about some areas in your life that God wants you to change.

God bless you as you seek His wisdom and guidance.

IDOL’ATRY, n. L. idololatria. Gr. idol, and to worship or serve.

  1. The worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God.

Idolatry is of two kinds; the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.

  1. Excessive attachment or veneration (great respect or reverence) for anything, or that which borders on adoration.

Definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

In His love and service,


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