“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25 ESV)
In the Gospel of John you run into a story in chapter 12 where Jesus, having just raised Lazarus from the dead, is eating at Mary and Martha’s house (Lazarus’ sisters). While eating, Mary annointed Jesus’s feet with some crazy expensive perfume. Where she got the perfume, how she got it, or its original purpose, we don’t know. All we do know is that she annointed Jesus’ feet with a perfume that would have cost a man 300 days of work. Judas wasn’t very happy about how she used the perfume. Pretending to be righteous, he complained that the perfume should have been sold and the money used for the poor. In his heart, however, he wanted to sell the perfume and spend the money on himself. Jesus wasn’t fooled.
We look at this story and immediately we denounce Judas a liar and a thief. Judas eventually sells out Jesus to the Pharisees (think hypocritical, religious Jews) to be crucified for a bag of 30 pieces of silver. So it’s pretty easy for us to condemn Judas. However, we can’t be that quick. What Judas had was an idolatry problem. He had elevated the worth of created things above the creator. He elevated the worth of the expensive perfume above the worth of the Son of God. We have the same problem. We make sports, athletics, CrossFit, family, school, and our bank account above the creator of these things. Even if Judas was genuine in his desire to spend the money on the poor. Jesus was quick to correct him in John 12, saying, “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” Even elevating good things like serving the poor or serving your family above Christ is idolatry. It’s a misalignment of value. Christ, the creator of all the things we value, is far more valuable than all those things combined.
We struggle with this on a large scale in the sports world. Our talent. Our goals. Our successes. We make them primary above the God who gave us those good gifts, or the ability to achieve those good gifts. We become Judas so quickly. Don’t be so quick to condemn him without first taking a look at your own idolatry. Where do we elevate gifts above the giver? Where do you make much of your own loves over the love given to us in Christ?