I had this old water heater in my last house. One night I noticed a tiny droplet of water on the bottom the expansion tank. Close by was a spot that looked rusted over. Directly below, at the bottom of the heater itself was another rust spot. Around that was a water spot on the platform that the water heater sat on. My assumption was that the drip from the expansion tank had been leaking onto the base of the water heater and causing it to rust. So I shut the water off and ran to the store to buy a new tank. Once I got that replaced I felt confident that the problem was resolved. A couple weeks later the water spot around the tank looked larger. I examined the tank that I replaced and all seemed well. I made a plan to come back and look at things in another day or two. But…it didn’t make it that long! The next day I get a call from my wife telling me how the garage is flooding. The water heater had ruptured. I told her how to shut off the water until I could get there to clean up the mess. My awesome father in law and along with one of my friends came to the rescue and helped switch out the tank for us before I even got there.
A slow drip had turned into a disastrous leak. Just like sin in our lives. There are things that are hurting us and are slowly showing signs of concern. Some allow anger to build and it slowly alters the way they treat others until one day they explode. Some allow lustful thoughts to creep in until one day they are wrapped up in an affair. Some pour themselves into their careers more and more year after year until one day they are so distant from their families. We have a choice to address those signs early and correct the problem before the flood happens. We can’t be negligent with sin. We can’t put it off for another day. Our motto cannot be, “I’ll just get through this and tomorrow I’ll do it differently.” Tomorrow will be too late.
I can’t say that I blew off the water heater issue. But I was not diligent in discovering the entirety of the problem so only part of it was solved. Partially dealing with our sin amounts to doing nothing. The disastrous flood is coming unless the sin is wholely addressed. We need to figure out why this is part of our lives. Why do I put such a high priority on work? Why do I lust after others? Why am I angry? There’s always a root and it’s not always easy to find. That’s why we need to be surrounded by safe people who we allow to speak into our lives. That’s why we need to abide in the Lord and devote ourselves to being connected to Him. That’s why we need to spend time consistently reflecting on our lives and motives. None of us are leakproof but we can all be patched up and made whole by the One who made us.
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14 ESV
The Christian is the partaker of the greatest gift in human history – God’s grace. A sad byproduct of grace can sometimes be sloppiness on the part of the recipient. People can get lax, neglectful, and take their faith in a very casual manner. Those are three words that are never found in the Bible and never meant to describe the follower of Jesus. Instead, it says:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Romans 10:9-11 ESV
Our faith is not a competition but it should be something that is propelling us forward. Progress is never casual, lax, or neglectful. The key contrast in the above quotation is between slothful and zeal. The Believer should be extremely zealous for the Lord and the mission we’ve been placed here for. We should be growing love for God and for others. We should be more about others and less about ourselves every year we get closer to the Lord. To have zeal is to have great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Our cause is to know Christ and to make Him known to the world. Our objective is humanity set free from the bondage of sin and death through a relationship with Jesus.
…and so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…
Colossians 1:9-11 ESV
We need to be growing in knowledge and wisdom. We need to be bearing fruit. We need to be experiencing His Holy Spirit power working in us. This is not the description of a sloppy Christian, this is someone who is in love with their Savior.
At a hospital near where I live, they’ve been building a large two-story add-on wing. They’ve been working on it for months and they’ve had large crews of trained construction workers, as well as the luxury of all the modern day equipment. It seems like weeks go by and it doesn’t look like much progress is being made. Several months in the project is nowhere near completion. That brings me to another large building project. In Genesis chapter 6, Noah was given an incredible task…to build an ark in preparation for a disastrous event, unlike anything that had ever occurred in human history. This ark was far larger than the hospital wing in my home town. It was even many times the size of a famous landmark that has made headlines recently…the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It’s one of the most famous buildings in all of Europe. Construction of the massive church began in 1163, during the reign of King Louis VII, and was completed in 1345. That’s nearly two hundred years for one building. Noah had a work crew that consisted of his family and no modern building equipment. That’s a monumental task!
Have you ever been asked to do something extremely difficult? How about being prompted by God to do something that would cost you big? Noah’s entire life was dictated by this project. It was his future. It was his calling. As if this wasn’t hard enough, the Bible also tells us that he spent those years preaching about the impending judgment and the path of redemption that God had provided. So now, Noah has to build a giant boat, that would house multiples of every animal on Earth, and in addition, he is tasked with sharing a difficult message to a world that had rejected God. I imagine that there would have been plenty of opportunities for doubt and weariness to set in.
If you find yourself involved in circumstances that don’t exactly make sense, take heart. Keep moving forward. Learn from Noah, who continued on the path God had set him on, regardless of the hostility he faced. Regardless of the length of his efforts, Noah persisted. Keep in mind, Noah worked on the ark longer than any of us have been alive. That’s perseverance. That’s commitment. That’s faith. For Noah, it was all about being faithful while waiting for that first raindrop to fall. The reward, for Noah and for us, is in staying the course regardless of the cost. If you were asked to build a giant boat for an apocalyptic event that had never happened before, you wouldn’t think it made sense. I’m sure Noah had his questions too. It was, after all, human. But he weathered the uncertain because he loved the God who was certain. Don’t lose heart brothers and sisters. That same God is certain in your life too.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV
Very few people in the world today actually read the Bible. The above image was taken from Christians….CHRISTIANS! More than 50% of Christians are not familiar with the Bible. Only 20% have actually read the entire thing. This is God’s story. This is the story of humanity. It’s the story of redemption, past, present, and future. It’s the most valuable information we could ever gain. It’s universal in application. It’s faultless. Yet, for so many, it’s collecting dust on people’s shelves or sitting as an unused app on their phones. If this is the case among Christians, you know that far fewer non-believers are reading it. But do you know what they are reading? You and me. If people aren’t reading about who Jesus is, we need to show them. We may be the only image of Jesus they get. What message are the people in your life getting? The message of Christ is not contained when it lives in and through His followers. Let’s show the world the contents of the Bible by how we live and love and the truth that is the banner of our lives.
My two little girls are obsessed with what color plate or bowl they get whenever I make them something to eat. The other day I brought home some yummy buttery popcorn as a treat and my wife poured it out in a couple bowls for them. In less than two seconds they started arguing over which bowl they got. Talk about first world problems. It made me so sad, and if I’m being honest, a little upset too. I took the opportunity for a teaching moment. I told them they need to stop focusing on the bowl and focus on what’s in the bowl. They were missing their treat for the sake of having a Wonder Woman bowl or Noah’s Ark bowl. The container was more important to them than the contents. I know my kids will outgrow this as they mature and learn the true values of life. Unfortunately, so many don’t. I’ve met them. You’ve met them. They’re everywhere. They can’t see the value of what’s inside a person because all they look at is the outside. Our physical bodies are only a container for the most important aspects of who we truly are.
The Bible is full of object lessons on this very topic. God has been wanting us to look at the world through this lens from the very beginning. Think about it. The Garden was just place. What made it special was the presence of God there. Same can be said about the tabernacle and the temple. They were all empty shells without the treasure of God’s presence dwelling there. The Ark of the covenant was only a fancy box. What made it special was the contents. Noah’s ark was merely a boat without the precious cargo inside. Jesus Himself was simply flesh without the fullness of God being embodied in Him. Even the new heaven and earth that awaits is simply a beautiful new world but would be pointless without the glory of God radiating there for all eternity.
We are all but flesh and bones apart from the true beauty within. In the first pages of the Bible it states that we are made in the image of God. That image does not consist of our outward appearance, but our ordained purpose, great desire for love, our longing for relationship, and the fact that we are intimately designed by the Creator of everything in existence. The real treasure is on the inside. Don’t miss out on it.