Whatever Your Heart is Devoted to, You Will Become Like It

Whatever Your Heart is Devoted to, You Will Become Like It

I have been picking my way through a book recently called We Become What We Worship, by G.K. Beale (1). The guiding principle throughout is this: “What we revere, we resemble, either for ruin or restoration.” Whatever it is that your heart is devoted to…you will become like it. Beale begins his argument in Isaiah 6, where the Lord tells the prophet to say to Israel,

“Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (Is. 6:9-10). 

Why would God want Isaiah to prophesy to these people who would not listen? Dr. Beale claims that the people’s heavy ears and blind eyes are a judgment against them for worshipping idols who can’t see nor hear. They have been made to become like what they worship. Psalm 115 says it plainly:

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them. (Ps. 115:4-8 ESV)

I was struck by how profound this truth is. As the peoples reject Him, the Lord gives them over to become like whatever they devote their heart, soul, mind, and strength to. Is it any wonder that a person spends all his time listening to angry Fox News diatribes (or CNN if it makes you feel better), that his speech begins to sound like theirs? His heart is being discipled and shaped by the news network he loves. He becomes like what he worships. Do we not also see this principle work its way out in practical ways in our homes? Do our children not begin to resemble whatever culture they start to revere? Do they not begin to behave like those people that they esteem? And make no mistake, that behavior does not come about simply by imitation. Their hearts are being drawn in and shaped, therefore, they genuinely become like those people and ideas they are devoted to.

It caused me to wonder about the current state of the church in America. Couldn’t this be the reason why the church looks so much like the world? Could it be that much of what calls itself the church in our nation has a heart that is really devoted to the world, though its lips say otherwise on Sundays? I don’t know if faith, hope, and love are the obvious characteristics of the western church, and the simple answer could be that Christ does not have its heart.

As discouraging as this principle is in regard to idolatry, it encourages us to know that the Lord has chosen to remake us into His image, as we revere and worship Him. We are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). By God’s grace, the Lord has chosen to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) as we behold Him and love Him, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). So, just as it is possible to be changed into the image of the idols that a man worships, so it is possible to be transformed into the beautiful image of the Son of God- if we will worship Him alone. If I behold Him, I will become like Him. If our church is beholding Christ, and abiding in Him, we all will take on more and more of the fruit of His nature in community together. This should have a practical impact on the way I (and our church!) choose to spend my time, what I listen to, what I put my eyes on. I need to be aware of devilish draw of the idols around me. These contemporary idols may not be made of wood, blind and deaf, but they have the power to capture my heart, and cause me to become like them. This requires vigilance about my devotion to the One who bought me with His blood. It requires me to “watch,” as Jesus so often taught His disciples- to stay awake. It should cause me to press in to His Word, to pray always, and not grow dull. My chief aim then, should be to revere Him, love Him, and worship Him, so I will continue to experience the restoration God has begun (and thankfully complete- Phil. 1:6), to make me into the image of His Son, until I become like Him in glory (1 John 3:2). May the Lord bless your efforts, and faith, as you seek this as well, to the praise of His glorious grace…Do you have an example to share in how you have seen this principle work its way out? How a modern idol has shaped a people to become like it?

(1) G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008)