Some people can make us feel good. They attract us. Like a sunflower in a sunny field, we long to face the source that keeps us satisfied and meets our needs.
But we tend to worship what we think we need—whether it’s God, money, or even people. And whom we worship, we will also obey.
That’s why worshipping people—or using them to get what we think we need—can leave us enslaved to them.
God offers a better alternative.
A Common Struggle and a Dangerous Decision
Of course, we all struggle with an unbalanced desire to please people. It’s called the fear of man. Even people of great faith wrestled with this:
- Abraham feared the Egyptians, so he lied and said his wife was his sister (Gen. 12:13).
- King Saul feared the people, and so disobeyed God’s direct command (1 Sam. 15:24).
- Peter feared for his life, so he denied he ever knew Jesus (Luke 22:59-62).
So, we’re in good company in our struggle to fear God and not people.
Of course, we’d never actually pray it out loud, but we ask God: “Whatever You do, please let other people like me.” We wonder how we were perceived, or what people thought of our comment, or how our outfit looked.
For some reason, we can have a clear faith in Christ for eternity, but we also live our daily lives in the fear of people.
The context of Jeremiah 17 shows Judah threatened by foreign invaders. But instead of going to the Lord for help, Judah chose to go to other nations. So the Lord said to His struggling people:
Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.’
If we’re honest, we see little difference between Judah looking to other nations for military help and you and me looking to other people to give us whatever we think we need. We’ll even sacrifice to them:
- They get our time and priorities.
- We’ll give them money.
- We spend time thinking about them.
- We follow their advice, regardless.
Bottom line? We sacrifice to what (or whom) we worship.
I spoke with a woman who told me: “I don’t care if I have to get married ten times, I will find a man who will make me happy.” If the goal of your life is to be happy, you’re headed down a dead end street. Even a great spouse makes a lousy god. If our trust is in people instead of God, Jeremiah calls it a fatal choice—a curse.
When we worship people, we end up painfully dissatisfied.
Thankfully, God offers a far better alternative.
Our Best Object of Worship
Jeremiah writes how we can turn away from the curse of trusting in people:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. —Jeremiah 17:7
The way Jeremiah wrote the word “blessed” indicates an intimate relationship with the one whom it’s intended. A person is blessed who has an intimate relationship with his or her God.
When you’re hurting so badly you think you’re going to die from sheer pain, where do you draw strength to draw another breath? You meditate on the truth:
- We can trust God because He’s good and all-powerful—in spite of our present pain.
- He’s on the throne and in complete control—even though He allows some hurtful situations.
- We can trust God because He is eternal—His throne is from the beginning—although we may feel otherwise.
Truth gives us a sanctuary in the midst of struggle. A God enthroned on high is worthy of our trust and worship.
As you face the choice today to worship God or people, ask yourself: Do I really believe God can be trusted with my life?