As I arrived at my place of employment yesterday, there were three men that have worked there nearly as long as I have congregated together discussing the usual morning fare, something I generally shy away from. Although I have heard nearly all of their ‘off-colored’ jokes, it is not their crude and vulgar common speech nor the occasional jests towards the ‘religious guy’ that causes me to bypass them nearly every day, save for the pleasantries, for I not too many years ago could not only have easily fit into their group, but in many ways I am sorry to say, could quite easily excel them in this type of lifestyle. It is the conviction within myself not to hearken to these indiscreet conversations, no matter if it seems rude or not, for as you may have read in some of my previous letters to you, it is always easier for a Christian to fall than it is to assist the lost to rise above.
What was interesting this particular morning was the question I was asked of them, “What exactly is your job title?” Now, I do not know for sure where they were planning on going with this question, but I can fairly well guess the general direction, for these individuals humor still rests at the junior high level, a place that they left many decades ago in life, but not yet in mind or words. The blessing came with my answer which surprised even me, “I am a Christian, cleverly disguised as an employee of this company,” I heard myself say. I really love it when the Holy Spirit just takes ahold of us at times, and in a sense says, “I’ll handle this for you,” and we hear ourselves say something that we were not even prepared to speak.
Sometimes when my wonderful wife and I are, shall we say, debating a topic vigorously, and there is a lull in the conversation, one of those dreaded moments when we are not quite comfortable in the silence together, I can hear the clock in the background going tick, tick, tick. In some ways it is a sound that I have learned to despise in these moments, for it is a sound in the void that infers the passage of time without any real or useful progress within it. The interesting thing is, when I spoke the words that I mentioned above to these fellow employees of mine, all I heard was the sound of the second hand on the clock behind them, in a sense, they were dumbfounded. I could think of no more to say than what the Spirit of God had placed within me for that encounter, so as they just stared at me for a few seconds with “that look” on their faces, I simply smiled at their somewhat confounded stares towards me, and went on about my business.
One of the most interesting items here though was that unbeknownst to me, another employee was standing just a few feet away from us, a younger fellow in his mid-twenties, and as I moved on he approached me and asked where in the Bible does it say that if a man does not work, he should not eat. I have been witnessing to this individual off and on for about a year now, but this time was the first that he had ever approached me with any questions related to Scripture. So, after informing him where the verse was, and some of the context surrounding it, we both moved on to our transitory work assignments for the day.
This morning as I arrived to work I noticed him off to the side alone and so I asked him if he had taken the time to look up the verse we had spoken of briefly the day before, for he had informed me of his intent to do so at that time. Although the answer was in the negative, something I must admit I expected but was still hopeful about, he immediately started talking to me about some difficulties he and the woman that he lives with, not his wife yet, were having in relation to some personal hobbies that take up a lot of his time, time away from her and the child that they have together. I quoted Ephesians 5:25 to him, and gave him a few different items that used to be in my life that are now no longer a part of me because of my adherence to this verse, and then asked him if his girlfriend was someone that he just lived with, someone to help with the bills and other daily requirements, or if she was the women that he was in love with, and if so, how much was he willing to give up for her.
Though I brought up briefly the fact that their living together while not married was not right in the sight of the Lord, I did not want to make an issue about this particular part of the conversation, he is well aware of that much from previous discussions, the point of this conversation was how much are you willing to put aside, what parts of your own personal life are you willing to give up for this woman and your child. The young man was quite adamant that the hobbies that he is enjoined in at this time of his life will not be put aside for anyone, much less given up, not even for these two. I left off the conversation at that point, understanding full well, for I also was once that young man, and had to learn the hard way what it means to lose out on the blessings that the Lord has placed before us.
It is a sad thing when we witness first hand self-centeredness, vanity, and pride, especially when there is more than one party involved, it is almost an ‘oily’ feeling, if you will, a thick, slimy oil that is difficult to wash off, a stench, though long past, that is hard to remove from our senses. We want what we want, and many times no matter who stands in our way, we will get what we want, and some times at any cost. The problem though seems to be that in our intense focus to achieve these goals, we lose track of the true cost, the payment due at the end of that road. For many the price comes due in the form of the loss of loved ones, even unto divorce, others are willing to put aside any self-esteem, as it were, willing to exchange what good name they have, even if it is only in just this world, for great riches and loving favor that will not last any longer than their own lives. (Prov. 22:1) Then others, though they know not Christ in their hearts, pursue a life that is far from pleasing to God, much less to those in society who have deemed their actions as immoral even in the sight of the majority of the world.
The highest cost though is the price of a man’s immortal soul, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.” (Mark 8:36) The whole world and all it has to offer in its fullest has nothing to do with their desire to be the ruler of all that they survey, or to receive praise from all, or even to be the god of this world, as Satan has set his sights on. It is only the world that these individuals have surrounded themselves with that they are concerned about, their lustful wants and ambitions, their greed and selfishness to have what they want when they want it, to never be forced to do anything they don’t want to do by others, ever. They have set their sights only on their own desires, on their own ambitions as to what life should be.
These people believe that they can gain the whole world within themselves, but it does not take a massive storm to bring them to the reality that they are living a lie, in fact just a small shower will bring to their attention the futility of their endeavors. They, it is sad to say, like this young man, will someday learn that their desires over time will change, that their hobbies have addicted them to the transitory and will either fade away or be taken from them over time, either due to age and the inevitable progression of time, or circumstances they will find completely out of their control. They will look up one day and find that they are alone on this earth, that all those that they believed loved them left their presence long ago, and if they do not see the hand that is reaching down from heaven towards them and grasp it with all their might, they will be lost for all eternity. They will rationalize their life’s actions, seeing them as useful and purposeful, yet only to themselves.
It is a sad state of affairs for the lost, both now and eternally. Pray for those whose minds are blinded by Satan, (2nd Cor. 4:4) pray for those who have seen the invisible things of God, (Rom. 1:20) and still believe the excuse they tell themselves, pray for all of them that come into your mind.