SOS – Save Our Souls
May 12, 2018
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therin: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed…’
Romans says that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy. So in considering how we get to the place of pleasing God by living righteously, peacefully and joyfully, it is important to carefully check on the state of our strengths and weaknesses. Do you feel strong enough to live right before God and man? On the flip side do you feel weak because of factors within and beyond your control?
So here is the next question. Where do you draw your strength from? What are you feeding your soul from the materials you watch, study, focus on and walk towards? Who is counseling you? What do you regard as wisdom? What rules of life do you apply? What are your key operating principles?
Strength flows from a source. Though expressed physically, strength for living comes from intangibles. The cleaner the source of strength, the stronger the abilities of a person. The stronger a person’s abilities, the higher their outputs.
Weakness also springs from unhealthy and debilitating factors found in and around of us. And the ultimate weakness is death – when one is frozen and totally incapable of any activity. This is why we must remain aware of circumstances that bring down our defenses and make an effort to eliminate them, while increasing the sources of strength.
Soon after the happy report that God ‘…breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2:7), the admonition followed – ‘Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’ (Genesis 2:17).
I bet Adam didn’t quite understand what death looked like. He was in Eden – remember? We may be familiar with death, but not Adam and Eve. There had been no death in the Garden of Eden until disobedience appeared. So they ate the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, expecting to know all things like God. This is notwithstanding that they had been specifically instructed to stay away from that tree. And worse, they had been told the result to be expected from eating from that tree.
Instead of omniscience and omnipotence, Adam and Eve started on a trail of losses. First nakedness. Then fear, then blame game. Eventually, there was ejection from the utopia of Eden. Could this get worse? It got worse. Out there, while still trying to gain the attention and favour of God, Cain killed Abel from jealousy. He was himself made a wanderer on the face of the earth. Eden was never restored.
‘The soul that sins shall die’. What a dire pronouncement. But so true. Sin is the ultimate weakener. When we give our hearts to debilitating emotions such as fear, greed, anger, jealousy, deliberate wrong, exploiting others…. the returns are so transient. We are weakened and set back in the march to progress. The energy needed to be creative, to motivate others to invest in our ventures can be so drained by negative emotions and living.
Sometimes it seems as if we gain some ground when we deliberately do wrong. Perhaps the trinket here and there that we got from lying or besting another may seem a good reward (the trinket could be as big as a contract or a car or landed property obtained by misdeeds, or even love and affection), but how deep does that gain go in our ladder of achievements?
And after that? We can easily begin to spiral down as we mistrust the next person, because we know our own hearts. We fear those who shared in the sin with us. We look behind us often, instead of walking straight ahead with tall shoulders. We lose the cocoon of loving relationships and the safety of healthy environments.
The soul is defined as the part of man consisting of the mind, character, thoughts and feelings (Collins English Dictionary). It is the center of emotions, will and intellect – reflecting in how we express ourselves in all ways. Since the soul is the central place of expression, we should pay special attention to strengthening it? For when it is strong, stronger will be our works.
James gave this critical counsel in James 1: 21 – ‘…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your soul’
God told Joshua at the beginning of his role as leader: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success’
The ground rules of the law are the ten key commandments for living – Worship only God – who is not created by human hands, nor positioned in one place of the universe. Don’t make an idol of anything. Honor those who gave you a chance in life. Rest properly on one day and do not work every day. Do not kill, steal, sleep with another partner other than your spouse or lie about your neighbor. Choose not to covet what belongs to someone else. (In essence, pray with sincerity and without restrictions. Practice showing respect, loyalty, faithfulness and make every effort not to injure others. Give the ultimate pleasure of your body to someone you are committed to making a lifelong best friend of. Work hard, but make sure it’s a balanced life that is not addicted only to making money!)
Simple instructions? Vital food for the soul. And they form the thread around which the entire collection of Bible events wind. These commandments and edicts from heaven are the wholesome spring from which we can feed our souls to ensure that the outflow of our emotions, will and intellect are in turn, wholesome. Without knowing, they give us inner strength, strength in our communities, and strength to carry on.
If we meditate on the pure words of the Bible and are careful to direct our ways by them, how clean and clear our ways would be. How stable and secure our relationships. How safe the environment. How strong we would get from the mentoring of these ancient words and stories. And how productive we will be from knowing that an omnipotent God is with us and listens when we offload the burdens in our hearts. How firm will be our focus, renewed our energy, assertive our confidence and bold our creativity! And how lasting will be the wealth and legacies we create. Go on. Read the Word daily. Draw strength from the waters of grace.
Lord. Help me to build my emotions and will in your pure word so that the fruit of my life will be truly enjoyable.