Good Gifts Gone Bad

Good Gifts Gone Bad

by Meredith Mills


Sometimes you’ve got to give yourself a time out.


For several months, I’ve been very intentional about writing regularly, trying to post here on a weekly basis. But last week, I chose not to write. At all.

God told me not to.

I had lots of work to do – A book proposal waiting to be revised, a book in process, a weekly blog post, a monthly contribution to Just18Summers and another article to complete by the end of the month.

Clearly, I didn’t have time to take the week off.

But God showed me that writing had become an idol.

An Idol.

It’s a rather church-y word, one that’s lost much of its meaning to modern American Christians. We read about idols throughout the Bible, but they can seem like distant relics of the past or an unfamiliar element of cultures somewhere else in the world.

Maybe we need to rethink the word.

Maybe addiction is more relevant to our modern minds.

Unlike statues of gold, addictions can be much harder to recognize, but they’re just as insidious.

Some addictions are big and ugly and obvious. But most of them aren’t. Most start as good gifts, designed by God for our enjoyment and use.

But they become addictions when we find our identity in them.

When we panic at the thought of losing them – even temporarily.

When we can’t stop thinking about them.

When we look for comfort, peace or healing in them.

When they drive and control us.

That’s what happened with my writing. I had taken it up as a hobby several years ago. It was a refreshing way to process my thoughts and emotions and a means of sharing with others what God is doing in my life.

But I’ve grown to love the feeling of completing a piece and meeting a deadline. I get excited when I hear how God ministered to someone through my words. I enjoy reading comments and feedback.

Those good things, however, took root in my heart and seeped into my identity. They began driving and controlling me like a task-master.

What started as a good gift became an addiction, an idol.

When God showed me this, I asked Him what to do about it. Not all idols can, or even should, be completely discarded. I’ve wrestled with a food addiction for much of my life, but I certainly can’t quit eating.

As I prayed, Jesus reminded me of this verse: “…Take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Just as my thoughts need to obey Jesus, the gifts I’ve received need to be under His control as well.

My writing needs to obey Jesus – the time I spend on it, the projects I undertake, the very words I say.

My eating habits should obey Jesus – what I eat, when I eat, how much I eat.

My parenting ought to obey Jesus – how I speak to my kids, the way I train and discipline them, the activities we chose to do as a family.

My role as a wife needs to obey Jesus – how I talk to and about my husband, how I respond to him, the priority I give our relationship.

My people-pleasing personality should obey Jesus, so that His pleasure is my heart’s desire and satisfaction.

My use of time needs to obey Jesus.

Absolutely every area of my life needs to obey Jesus.

Because this is what following Him is all about – my whole self living in full surrender to the God who invites me to find rest in Him. Rest from the idols that drive me, rest from the law that condemns me, rest in Christ’s work and rest in the nearness of God.

While idols and addictions consume those who cling to them, Jesus offers the abundant life for which our souls were created. (See John 10:10.)

How about you? Are there any idols lurking in the shadows of your soul? Any addictions strangling your abundant life?

God loves us too much to let us continue worshiping at the feet of things that will destroy us. Will you bring your idols to Him and let Him show you how to bring them under His control? no idols

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! Please respond below.

Related Posts:

Subduing Sin

What’s the Big Deal?

Voices in my Head

Things are Changing Around Here

Not Safe But Good





What’s the Big Deal?

What’s so bad about sin?

I’ve been pondering that question for a while. As Christians we are “under grace,” recipients of mercy and forever favored by God. Through faith in Jesus, we have become God’s kids. A great exchange has taken place – Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness. And that is how God sees us now – righteous, loved, welcomed, joint-heirs with His Son. It’s who we are. Nothing we do can change this reality.

So what’s the big deal about sin, if it has no effect on our standing before God?

Apparently, the Romans were wondering this, too. In his letter to them, Paul says, “…should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? For sin will not rule over you because you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:1-2, 14).

The logical result of being under grace is that we are now free from sin, not free to sin.

Sin used to be our master. But no longer! When we are saved by grace through faith, sin’s dominion is forever broken. It has no more claim upon us. (“A person who has died is free from sin’s claims Rom 6:7.) In regard to sin, we are dead.


But we are not merely dead to sin. By faith, we are alive to God (Rom 6:11). We have been raised from spiritual death in order to experience new life (Rom 6:4). A friend of mine once said, “Sin doesn’t make sense for a Christian.”

Why would we submit to our cruel old master, when we have tasted and seen that our new Master is good (Ps 34:8)? Why would we live according to our old nature, when we’ve been given a new one (Eph 2:10, 4:24)? We have been saved for more than that!

You, child of God, are free. Free to walk with God. Free to rest in His love. Free to say “no” to the things that once mastered you.


But…what about those times when you don’t feel free? When the allure of sin seems irresistible? When you feel powerless to withstand temptation? If you’re like me, there are some well-worn paths to sin in your heart. Habits, besetting sins, idols, addictions…How do you get “out of the rut” and create new paths, new habits?

A number of years ago, I found myself in great bondage to food. It was my god. I lived to eat, and regularly overate. It became so bad that I felt powerless to resist. That area had become completely unmanageable, so I cried out (quite literally) to God for deliverance. And God came through.

He taught me that, though I am powerless in my own strength, Christ in me is greater than any sin struggle I face. When I surrendered this area to Him, He began retraining my mind. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is…” He showed me what His Word says about gluttony and about self-control, and about listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my heart.

He trained me to walk in the victory that was mine all along.

On this earth, sin will continue to be a menace. But it need not be our master. I still struggle with overeating at times (and plenty of other sins). But it is not my master. Jesus is my Master, and He is oh, so good. When I fail, He is ever-ready to pick me up, put me back on my feet and continue teaching me to walk in freedom.

This is what salvation is all about. The gospel that saved you, child of God, is the same gospel that sanctifies you. We come to Him for salvation empty-handed, with nothing to recommend ourselves to Him. And that’s how we must keep coming back to Him. With no power or goodness of our own, embracing all that He is and all that He’s done on our behalf.

He Himself has set you free.

Will you let Him work out the gospel in the deepest recesses of your heart? He wants you to walk with Him in freedom, unencumbered by the shackles of sin. He wants you to know the abundant life He lived and died to give you.


Let’s keep this conversation going – what are your thoughts on sin in a Christian’s life? How have you experienced freedom from sin? Stay tuned for more on this topic!