Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Step into the Garden

Turn my eyes away from worthless things

I once heard a man say, “For the Christian, all ground is holy ground; every bush a burning bush.”

The apostle Paul told his young disciple, Timothy, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”

How then, can anything be construed as worthless?

Here is the key: Indeed all things may be received with thanksgiving, except – that which turns my heart away from God. No matter how benign something may be intrinsically, if it interferes in my relationship with Jesus, it is worthless. It is worse than worthless.

Or, if it interferes in the relationships others have with Jesus. This is a little trickier. I speak not here of offending another’s weird hang-ups. There are anomalies in everyone’s life. I do not speak of issues for which others may have abundant and virulent criticisms. I speak here of things we say and do which impact the lives of others and cause them to turn away from intimacy with the Savior. Things which interrupt and diminish that relationship. In order to accomplish this, one must have some level of influence with the other person -- enough to make one’s adverse impact coercive.

Worthless things can be anything. They can be everything. The issue is how they are approached by the heart, not the things in themselves.

Now, let us get real. There are things specifically designed by the Enemy, or by evil people, or even by ourselves, uniquely intended to turn our hearts away from God. It is impossible to receive such things with thanksgiving from the hand of God, because God himself rejects them as destructive.

You would never find them in his hand in the first place.

It is wise for us to see such things for what they are, and not delude ourselves into thinking that because “we are grateful to God for them,” they are acceptable.

For David, whom we credit for the 119th Psalm, that would have been his lust for Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband -- as well as for several other less dramatic indiscretions. For you and me, it may not be murder and lust, but if it succeeds in supplanting God in our hearts, it is beyond worthless.

I know a man who offends just about everyone he knows. Interestingly enough, he feels “called of God” to do so. He has grown a beard that falls to his chest, along with a bushy mustache, and long, unkempt hair. He lives in the corner of a warehouse along with his dog, who is about the only one who admires him. His wife and his children have abandoned him to his misguided enormities.

His behavior is bizarre in the extreme and his statements are abrasive, insulting and inflammatory. No doubt, he sees himself as a modern-day Elijah or Elisha. In order to speak to the contemporary mind one must accommodate that level, as the prophets did to theirs and as Jesus did to the world. In order to speak for God, one must speak with God’s credibility. This man’s eccentricities destroy any and all credibility he has. They obfuscate the credibility of the message he preaches, and in so doing, diminish it.

He demonstrates no credibility from God or otherwise. As a result, his message is worthless to those who would hear him.

All of that said, we must give this man his due. He professes Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. We must accept that and look upon him as a brother. All believers are imperfect, and from the perspective of God who loves us all, how are we much different than he? God can turn his deprecatory methods into effectiveness and good; as he did with David, the adulterer, fornicator and murderer -- and, who also was called the “friend of God.” It is of interest to note that Bathsheba ended up being named in the ancestral lineage of Jesus, and became the mother of Solomon. Not too shabby. God often has a way of turning our worthless things into good.

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