It is interesting that in most Bible verses where the word “valueless” appears, it is applied to false gods. For example, Jehovah said to Israel: “You must not make valueless gods for yourselves, and you must not set up a carved image or a sacred pillar for yourselves, and you must not put a stone as a showpiece in your land in order to bow down toward it.” (Lev. 26:1) King David wrote: “Jehovah is great and very much to be praised, and he is to be feared more than all other gods. For all the gods of the peoples are valueless gods. As for Jehovah, he made the heavens.”—1 Chron. 16:25, 26.
As David indicated, we are surrounded by evidence of Jehovah’s greatness. (Ps. 139:14; 148:1-10) What a privilege it was for the Israelites to be in a covenant relationship with Jehovah! How foolish they were to turn away from him and bow down before carved images and sacred pillars! In times of crisis, their false gods proved to be truly valueless, powerless to save themselves let alone their worshippers.—Judg. 10:14, 15; Isa. 46:5-7.
In many lands today, people still bow down to man-made images, and such gods are just as useless now as they were in the past. (1 John 5:21) However, the Bible describes things other than images as gods. Consider, for example, these words of Jesus: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”—Matt. 6:24.
How can “Riches” become like a god? Well, as an example, think of a stone lying in a field in ancient Israel. Such a stone could be useful for the construction of a house or a wall. On the other hand, if it was set up as “a sacred pillar” or as “a showpiece,” it became a stumbling block to Jehovah’s people. (Lev. 26:1) Similarly, money has its place. We need it just to survive, and we can use it well in Jehovah’s service. (Eccl. 7:12; Luke 16:9) But if we place the pursuit of money ahead of our Christian service, money becomes, in effect, a god to us. (Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.) In this world, where the pursuit of financial gain is so important to people, we have to make sure that we keep a balanced view in this matter.—1 Tim. 6:17-19.
Another example of something useful that can become a valueless thing is secular education. We want our children to be well-educated so that they can make their way in life. Even more important, a well-educated Christian is better able to read the Bible with understanding, reason on problems and come to sound conclusions, and teach Bible truths in a clear and persuasive way. Getting a good education takes time, but it is time well spent.
What, though, of higher education, received in a college or a university? This is widely viewed as vital to success. Yet, many who pursue such education end up with their minds filled with harmful propaganda. Such education wastes valuable youthful years that could best be used in Jehovah’s service. (Eccl. 12:1) Perhaps it is not surprising that in lands where many have received such an education, belief in God is at an all-time low. Rather than looking to the advanced educational systems of this world for security, a Christian trusts in Jehovah.—Prov. 3:5.