In the last couple of weeks I purchased a cheap deck of cards. Since the book of Psalms and Proverbs discusses wisdom and “the heart” a lot I decided to use the stack of cards as a “tool” to figure out the things that have been important to me in the past … but more important to figure out the things that need to be important to me according scripture.
The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So in light of this deck of cards being a “personal inventory of my own heart” I started writing on the deck of cards using all the “hearts” as stuff that symbolized items and things that could be ‘functional gods’ of my heart.
The Ace of hearts: On the highest card, the Ace of hearts, I wrote Jesus and King of Kings to be inline with the scriptural truth of the greatest commandment to “love our god with all our heart”. Jesus became the Ace of hearts or the heart with the highest power.
The Queen of Hearts: I made the second highest card the Queen of hearts and I wrote my wifes name on that card. Sue is my wife and my queen of hearts! Scripture calls the marriage union a one-flesh union and says it is not good for man to be alone. God makes a point of emphasizing emphasizing marriage and woman as “very good” in the book of Genesis!
The King of Hearts: I made the next card directly below the queen to be the “king of hearts” and wrote my name on this card. Yes, the second greatest command said to love others as “yourself”. So I believe scripture allows us to place ourselves high in this deck of cards.
The Jack of Hearts: My wife and I dont believe in child centered parenting so the next card was the Jack of hearts and I wrote both my daughters’ names on this card.
All the following cards: On all the remaining non-face heart cards I wrote things that could be functional gods of my heart. These are potential items that could consume me and functionally work to make the important face cards I listed above to have lower priority in my life. The easy to think of things that could go into this category are things like money, power, and sex. More broadly these things fall into four areas. The four categories are:
- Ourselves (my image, my span of power and influence, my job)
- Our religion (finding your identity more in being religious than being “in Christ”)
- Objects (money, things, etc, )
- Others (your children, your wife. or other people idols)
So the rest of my deck consisted of many false and counterfeit gods and had some of the following: Motorcycle, my image at work, my image (in general), religion (moralism and theological insightfulness), my house, TV, computer, pleasure and comfort idols (in general), food, sex, and quite a few more.
I also had my wife write on the club suit all the things she thinks takes time away from having my deck being stacked in the right order. The suit is appropriate because if I dont keep my deck of cards stacked with the important things at the the top she gets to “club me” anytime …. 🙂 . And so I had the important things to me all listed as well as all the “functional and counterfeit” gods that take away from the important things in my life all listed in my deck of cards.
As I consider this deck I also realize the order is does not always reflect reality and to be honest I was not aware of how badly me deck of cards was stacked until much later in life. There have been times when getting approval from my wife and my children have been more important than Jesus. For example when me and my wife started going to church we started doing it originally for our children. We did not necessarily go to worship the creator of all things. We made our children into functional gods! Other parents may make children functional gods when they seek “acceptance” and “happiness” rather than holiness and gospel-centered godliness for their children.
The same goes for my wife…. their are times when I made her acceptance of me more important than Jesus. To be truly happy I needed her approval MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE! Her rejection devastated me. Her approval was the trump card in my deck of cards as opposed what should have been my trump card …. Jesus and the gospel. This led to a lot of dysfunction in our marriage. I should pause a moment here and say something. As you learn, with godly wisdom, discern the idols of your heart and to stack your deck in the right order, Jesus will never ask you to love your wife less…. He will ask you to love Him more…. see scripture above!
It took me a lot of years to discern the idols of my heart… and especially to see how they often trumped my “Ace of hearts” and my “Queen of Hearts” and sometimes they still do trump them.. But more importantly I understand that these are not things that could have ever been understood with just “knowledge” of scripture or by trying harder It took applying the knowledge and truth of the gospel to the dirt that was in my heart. Most importantly I know that I have a sinful tendency to reshuffle this deck of cards to whatever order I want.
The only fix is the “gospel of Jesus” who knows my heart and offers Himself on the cross as my rescuer. By naming my idols and by proclaiming the Gospel the idols of my heart have lost the same power they once had. Also, because I know I have a tendency to want to reshuffle the deck at times I continue to do what I know works… proclaim and name my sin and idols transparently in Christian community and participate in the expulsive, replacement, rejoicing of Jesus and the glory and grace of the cross in the face of the idolatry of my heart!
So…. how is your deck stacked?