Sunday Leftovers (3/4/07)

There is a simple reason why Jesus says, “Do not judge according to appearance…” (Jn. 7:24). Because we are prone to being impressed with the superficial.

For the same reason that foods that have much attraction and little substance and sustenance (read: candy bars, fast food burgers, chips and dip, and bubble gum), we are prone to being attracted to spiritual life that is glamorous, easy and superficial. Why dig deep into the heart of the matter if you can approach it superficially and give the appearance of being transformed?

Dig deep, because only spiritual depth will give you the satisfaction of a nourished soul.

Beware of the sermon that doesn’t challenge you to something greater than you are or can accomplish in your own strength (every sermon should be God-exalting and expound the Scriptures so you are taught, reproved, corrected, and trained for righteousness). Beware of devotional times that leave you yawning — both literally and figuratively (you are meeting the holy God who invited fear when others saw Him). Beware of ministry and service that doesn’t invigorate you or even make you fearful (you have been called to do something for which you are not adequate!). Beware of honoring those who have superficial successes (like money and position) and ignoring those who have no such trappings (it’s dishonoring to the name of Christ). Beware of being convicted of sin without being transformed.

All these dangers and more are marks of a superficial life that is perhaps “reputable” on the surface, but is weak and crumbling internally.

We do well to hear the words of Robert Murray McCheyne, which he wrote to a young missionary who was about to leave for his new ministry:

I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man — I mean the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword — His instrument — I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

There is a measure to the superficial life which is easy and simple. But the life of ease is not always (rarely, in fact) the good life. The good life is the examined, “heart deep” life.

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