Joel Osteen's wife, Victoria, accused of idolatry

Victoria OsteenVictoria Osteen/Facebook

The wife of megachurch pastor Joel Osteen is facing criticism after remarks she made in an undated sermon began circulating the internet last week.

In an excerpted YouTube video, Victoria Osteen told Lakewood Church that "doing good" and worshipping God is of benefit to us. But because she did not emphasise that following God's commandments glorifies Him, Twitter users and a Florida pastor have called her statements idolatrous.

The video is 36-seconds long, and begins with the first lady ending a sentence to enthusiastic applause. "So I just want to encourage every one of us to realise when we obey God, we're not doing it for God—I mean, that's one way to look at it—we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy," she said.

"That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.

"When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really," she continued. "You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen? Let's open our hearts to Him today."

Mrs Osteen begins to lead the congregation in prayer before the video ends.

Pastor Steve Camp of The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida said that Osteen's statements were humanistic and contrary to scripture.

"It's the age old sin of idolatry—that it's not about God, it's about us," he told the Christian News Network. "True worship for the humanist is about how we feel at the end of the day and what gives us meaning, as opposed to what gives God glory.

"When we come to see men happy rather than God glorified, it's not worship, it's idolatry.

"She honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy. She honestly believes that worship is about our fulfillment rather than His glory. That's the bottom issue here."

NOLA Wesley United Methodist Campus Ministry Director Morgan Guyton said that although Osteen's words were poorly chosen, he understands the message she was trying to communicate.

"While I would say what Victoria Osteen said differently, I absolutely affirm the basic insight that worshipping God is not supposed to be moralistic drudgery but actually a genuine source of deep joy," he wrote in a Patheos blog post.

"Victoria Osteen is absolutely right if what she's saying is that God doesn't need us to worship Him for himself, but He wants us to worship Him for our sake. God doesn't have such a fragile ego that He needs our worship; we need to worship Him so that we won't worship ourselves or other idols that make us ultimately unhappy."

The Osteens have not commented publicly on the criticism. Watch the controversial clip below.