Friday, November 13, 2009

White Elephant

For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 NAS)

White Elephant When someone says something is a white elephant, what he really means is that the item is of little or no value unless it is put to use. Phrases.org.uk defines a 'white elephant' as a burdensome possession or something creating more trouble than it is worth, while UsingEnglish.com defines it as an expensive burden or something that costs far too much money to run, like the Millennium Dome in the UK.

The origin of the idiom 'white elephant' dates back to ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries where white albino elephants were regarded as holy. Keeping a white elephant however was a very expensive undertaking because the owner had to provide the elephant with special food, and he has to allow it to be accessed by people who wanted to worship it. If a Thai King were dissatisfied with a subordinate or servant, he would give him a white elephant, a gift which would in most cases ruin the recipient.

Worshipping a white elephant, a creature created by God, rather than the Creator is not only wrong but burdensome, and dishonoring God. Idol worship of animals or images made from the handiwork of man creates more trouble than it is worth and costs much money to run, just like the situation faced by the craftsmen of Artemis in Ephesus during the days of the apostle Paul (Acts 19). Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis was bringing much business to the craftsmen, but because of Paul's preaching concerning gods made with hands are not gods at all, the trade was in danger and falling into disrepute.

When rationalized, idolatry is in effect all about a business deal. It is about craftsmen making money from the idols they create using their own hands. Some idols may come in the form of animals like the golden calf of the Old Testament or the white elephant of Thailand. Others may be symbolic or in the form of something we put in our hearts that we consider is of more importance than God. All these idols, whether physical, spiritual, holistic or materialistic are an abomination to God.

Like the white elephant that ruins the recipient, idolatry ruins the one who choose to worship other gods. These so-called gods in the forms of man-made handiwork, or the material things we possess, or something we desire or lust for which we put our whole hearts and minds into, or anything or any person we 'worship' and adore, or things we are willing to sacrifice and trade our lives for or give of ourselves to achieve outside the will of God. All these idols or any one of these idols can ruin us because they are not gods, and there is only one true God (1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Isaiah 45:22; 46:9). We must therefore not have any other gods before Him nor worship them (Exodus 20:3-5).

As believers of the Lord, therefore, let us all check our hearts and minds regularly to see if we have put anything above God. If we have, then let us confess before God and ask for His forgiveness, for though our sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow, and He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:9).

Dear Lord, forgive us for placing certain things more important than You in our hearts, our minds, or in our possession. Help us God to always put you first in all things and not to provoke you by worshipping or desiring something more than You. Do not allow us to be ruined by the idols in our lives O God, but keep on reminding us by Your Holy Spirit to always check our hearts to put all things in subjection under Your feet. Sit on the throne of our hearts Lord and be our King for all eternity, for You O God alone is worthy of worship.

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