Set Your House In Order
Live long enough and you will likely learn that most things in life just aren’t as urgent as they are made out to be. Deadlines change, offers are extended, projects, even ones that once seemed important, are abandoned without a second thought. The battles you prepare for are rarely fought, and the ones that rage around you sometimes make no sense when viewed from afar.
Isn’t it odd how the biggest tempests seem to blow in the smallest of teapots, and how the once urgent ways of man are rarely more than one generation from irrelevance? But then again wasn’t that the point of passages like Ecclesiastes 1:14-15, and Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. It was the point of James when he wrote in the fourth chapter “13 Come now, you who say, “ Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “ If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Perhaps we might even be excused for asking “what is the point of all this.” If the battle doesn’t always go to the strong and if it is not the wise and discerning who eat and gain wealth, can there be any effort that is worthwhile? If all is vanity and life is like a vapor, and the world will have no memory of me, if the works of my hand maybe torn down while I yet live why feel any urgency at all?
As was said we might be excused for asking, but simple observation of the modern Christian in his culture clearly shows that we are loath to admit the truth of it. Instead we succumb to the tyranny of these urgencies without thought to their impotence.
Our free moments are filled with entertainment and not contemplation of God’s word; our thoughts are distracted by cares and other obligations even as we come to worship Him. We work not to provide but to dispose. We excuse ourselves from assemblies for the most meager of reasons and the most vain of pursuits all in the futile belief that such things make life better. All of this we do, even as we convince ourselves that we are unable to find time to progress spiritually.
Clean your house
Before Jordan was born I was the middle of three brothers. Raise them, and you will learn that there is a pattern to the behavior of boys. First comes lazy, then bored, and lastly strife. It doesn’t matter how much they are indulged eventually unproductive labor leads to boredom, which brings strife. Every time we reached the point where her boys were being, well boys, Mom gave the same instruction. “Boys go clean your room.” Why? I’ve never asked, but I suspect it’s because the surest cure for boredom is work and not indulgence.
Might I suggest the same cure for the spirit in each of us that leaps from one restless activity to the next? Set your spiritual house in order. At the root of this is value. Consider the words of James for a moment:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:“ He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”…
(James 4:3-5 NASB)
When our time is filled with pursuits that are not God’s, no matter how enriching they might appear to be, there is an undeniable futility. We know this. We find ourselves spiritually restless and feeling frayed, incapable of growth, and worn from a day’s pointlessness. So why do we continue under the yoke of tyrannical urgency when we know that these things are not that important?
Is it because we have not truly learned Christ?
Clear The Deck
When Mom gave her edict it was typically met with grumbling and complaining, but we knew she meant it. We also knew where to start. Clean the floor. That meant hampering the clothes, putting away those things that were worth keeping, and throwing out what was broken, unneeded, or just in the way. Strangely enough that is the best remedy for our spiritual woes as well.
27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.
(John 6: 27 NASB)
21 But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:21-24 NASB)
We need to learn the difference between what has value and what is merely busy. Busy does not aid us in our trek to Heaven in fact it hinders. That is the real lesson of urgency.
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB)