Want to kill idols? Reserve this adjective for God alone.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

There’s a tension we see throughout Scripture. 

On the one hand, we are invited to delight in creation and our work with creation. “Every good gift” is from God (James 1:17) given to us “for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). And that includes our work! Ecclesiastes 2:24 says “a person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil” because those good things are “from the hand of God.”

These verses are good examples of what I call the “delight in creation” passages of Scripture. But on the other side of this perceived biblical tension, we find the “delight in Creator” passages that command us to love God above all things. This was summarized most succinctly in Jesus’s articulation of the Greatest Commandment above.

So, we are called to delight in the gifts the Creator has given while delighting in our Creator above all things. Because separating these things is the essence of idolatry. Pastor Joe Rigney (whose excellent book Strangely Bright has aided me greatly in the writing of this series) says that idolatry “is the separation of the gifts from the giver and then a preference for the gifts over the giver.”

In this series, I’ll put forth a framework to help you and I enjoy God’s gifts (especially our work) in a way that ensures we enjoy the Giver most—a path to delighting in our jobs without them becoming God-dishonoring, soul-sucking idols. 

Here’s the first of four principles to guide us towards that goal. Principle #1: Insist that Jesus is better.

The next time you celebrate a massive accomplishment with your team, read an email about how your product changed someone’s life, or hold a baby in your arms after hours of hard labor, resolutely insist that Jesus is better than his gifts—even if you have a hard time seeing how. 

What does this look like practically? Here’s one idea: Reserve one adjective for God alone. 

I know a man who refuses to call anything but God “awesome.” So when he delights in created things—an incredible pizza, seeing his book hit the bestseller list, watching his daughter get married—he might describe those experiences as “good,” “great,” or even “exceptional.” But never “awesome.” Why? “Because God alone is awesome,” he says. 

Let me encourage you to choose an adjective that you will reserve for God alone as a means of practically insisting that Jesus is better. And may that small decision put you on a path to enjoying your work in a non-idolatrous way today.


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