As a full-time educator, I occasionally have to miss school for one reason or another. On those rare occasions, I have a substitute fill in for me in class. They always do a good job and keep the class flowing as well as possible while I’m gone. Truthfully, though, a substitute cannot replace the classroom teacher. While they may do an excellent job teaching the lessons the teacher left behind, they don’t know the students as well or as personally. The substitute may not know how to motivate a particular child or how another student struggles with a particular concept. They can only work with the lesson plans the teacher has given them.
In the same way, we occasionally try to replace God or the natural things he intended for us with a substitute. The most obvious replacement is putting the world and its pleasures in place of God. In his infinite wisdom, God has placed particular laws and boundaries in our lives in order to bless us. Psalms 19:7-9 reads,
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous.”
But apparently we don’t like to do things God’s way at times. We substitute worldly ways for a perfect God.
- We substitute drugs, alcohol, and other substances for natural endorphins found in healthy living and exercise.
- Pornography and sexual immorality is substituted in place of a healthy sex life within the confines of marriage.
- Lies, deceit, and trickery replace the sound doctrines of faith, integrity, and hope.
- Selfishness is substituted for servanthood.
- Our giving is replaced with the pursuit of more money and possessions.
In all these areas we tell God, “Listen, you’re not good enough. I’ve found something better… something I want.” And all the while, God watches us destroy our lives, wishing that we would simply trust in him. In what areas have you tried to substitute for God? If we’re honest, we can admit that those substitutes never satisfy. They can never come close to replacing the perfect love found only in our creator and Father… our God!