Today’s Gospel, the Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 24-34 begins like this:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
As a divorced Catholic, I went through countless possible reasons my marriage fell apart. I was five months pregnant and completely in love with my husband when he suddenly told me he was leaving. It was a day I will never forget, Sunday, Mother’s Day 2009, and poof, a week later, he was gone for good!
The idea of him leaving was shocking, deplorable, unimaginable. I was heartbroken and lost for a long time. I searched for answers, desperate for something that would make sense of the senseless; Matthew 6:24, God and Money, was one of the Scriptures I turned to.
I was able to see the many ways our marriage had faded over time despite my heartfelt attempts to keep it going. I could see the multitude of ways my husband, like many men, had served other gods.
5 False Gods Men Fall Prey To:
- Work – Like many men, my husband placed work responsibilities ahead of family and household responsibilities and often missed important family events.
- Money – Too often men confuse their identity with their paycheck. Sadly, my husband fell prey to this and twisted my wanting him to be home more often with his being, “just a paycheck.” He never understood his true worth to his boys and me. Men, you are priceless and irreplaceable in your homes and in the lives of your wife and children.
- Car – The idea of purchasing a new car during a midlife crisis is a joke in many households, and I thought it was funny that my husband needed to have a cool spoiler on the car he bought using part of our retirement. The sad thing is that jokes are often grounded in some truth we fail to recognize. That “laughable” midlife crisis is a very real demon many of our men (and many women too!) will face.
- Friends – When friends with values different from those given to us by Christ take up more of our time, those frends begin to replace Christ and place a pull on our hearts, minds, and souls that is difficult to resist. My husband stopped hanging out with the friends we had made in our town and our church and hung out more with those lacking Catholic values or those who shared Catholic values in name only.
- Sex – It is said, “Show me who your friends are, and I will show you your future.” His work friends, many of whom are divorced partiers, see sex outside of marriage as a normal part of their lives. It would be very difficult to resist that temptation.
I’m sure I could come up with more false gods my ex-husband placed before his family, before those who loved him, and especially before God, but it was not long before I realized that if I was going to look at the false gods my ex-husband had, I would need to look at my own false gods too.
As the Bible tells us,
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.
5 False Gods Women Fall Prey To:
- Home – I, like many women, became obsessed with decorating my house. I wanted to make it picture perfect. I could visualize parties, barbecues, holidays, friend and family filled celebrations. I could justify it in any number of ways, but it became more important than it should have been.
- Children – My children made me laugh; they made me cry; they surprised me and angered me and took up so much of my time and energy. No one needed me like they did, and I loved them completely for that. That love is not wrong, but I could have loved them better by loving God more.
- My Husband – I cannot count the number of times I had told my husband I would live in a trailer as long as we were together. I thought he was Superman and could fix anything. No matter how bad life was, the world was always better when I was wrapped in his arms with my head on his chest. I put him on a pedestal, but that was so unfair of me. A pedestal is not a good place for anyone to try to maintain balance.
- Others‘ Opinions of Me – Women are people pleasers, and I am no exception. I wanted others to like me and so much of my self-worth was caught up in what others thought of me that I would have done almost anything to get others to like me.
- Myself – After the fourth baby was born, I thought for certain we were done having children. I worked hard to eat right, to lose the extra body weight, and to erase the effects of being pregnant or nursing for 105/108 months had done to my body. I worked out and was proud of my figure, but I forgot that it was God who had given me the ability to eat right through good food and my husband’s good salary and that He had given me the time to exercise through workout videos, jogging strollers, and really wonderful children. I took the credit for my size 4 when I really had little to do with my success.
Even now that I know those are some of my biggest temptations, I still find myself falling prey to their pull, and every day, I find more ways I am tempted to do things that would put God behind my desires. I believe it is a struggle each of us must face on a day by day, sometimes minute by minute basis.
None of us immune to the draw of false gods. Often, we don’t even realize that we are in fact worshiping at the altar of materialism and selfishness, but that is what we are doing. It is often easier to see ways others fail than it is too examine our own failings, but it is only through introspection, reflection, prayer, and the one true God’s Grace that we can grow in faith, learn to not repeat our past mistakes, and truly value what is permanent and real over what is temporary and fading.
What false gods are you drawn to? How do you resist their temptations?
For all of today’s Bible readings, please click here.