It used to be that when I would think of idols, I would think only of the tangible kind: Think the hand-carved "immunity idol" on the show Survivor or the ones made by the Israelites in Numbers 33:51-53.
Over the last few years, my eyes were opened to the not-so-tangible kind... the ones that are much harder to spot... the ones that are readily available at any time and have been carved into our lives over a period of time.
Before I go on, please let me state my understanding of idols. An idol, as I understand it, is anything that takes the place of God in our lives. It's the persons, places or things in which we find satisfaction... in place of God. We end up worshipping these things because we give glory and honor to ___________ instead of God for the satisfaction in our lives.
We can even slip into idolatry. I say slip because I believe it's just that at times... a slip up if you will... but oh so quick that we might not even notice such a "minor thing".
You might think that TV is not an idol for you but then you catch yourself becoming unhappy and unsatisfied if you don't get to watch your favorite show. Now, I don't mean disappointed here. I mean mad. Have you ever been downright mad when you didn't get to watch a show on TV? You may be depending on that TV show to make you happy and fulfilled. Often times a TV show fills that empty space for 30 minutes or an hour. The true satisfaction you get from God comes from a place far deeper than a shallow show.
Please let me say... I don't believe there's anything wrong with using TV shows for what they were intended... to entertain; however, when it becomes a lifeline for you... there could be a problem.
Here's a big one... money. Money in itself can be good. But, when you look to money for your happiness and satisfaction, it becomes an idol. Buying most anything provides for some happiness and satisfaction (don't get me wrong here) but when your happiness and satisfaction depend on what you can afford... there could be a problem. I don't think there's anything wrong with buying a fancy new car or fabulous diamonds, but when you look to those things for happiness and security and to be satisfied... you are often not looking to God for what only He can provide.
We were created with a longing that can only be filled by God.
When we look to earthy things to fill that void, ironically we will be left empty.