Read Galatians 1:13-16; Philippians 3:1-9
I love the fall. It's harvest time, and the outdoors is becoming cooler and quieter. However, this week, I had to wonder about whether a few little things in my world had any value? Wasps and unripe apples. May I explain?
My husband and I were cleaning up around the apple trees, especially, once again, picking up fruit that had fallen out of the McIntosh tree. We have been throwing away unripe apples since they started prematurely falling out of the tree, beginning earlier in the summer. It's a common thing with McIntosh, but this year, almost every apple bounced out of the tree on to the ground prior to becoming sweet and good. On the plus side of the ledger, the birds and squirrels should be very content, if the half eaten and pecked fruit is indicative of what they have been enjoying throughout the season. After throwing out the last of what was strewn around the area near the tree, I wondered if the unripe fruit has any value, considering we have picked up and thrown away several pounds of sour under developed apples? Then, the other day as I was sitting on the swing on the patio, I was stung by a wasp, and I had the same question? Do these insects have any purpose at all? Or, are they simply part of the discomfort that came as a result of sin? I learned that the answer to both questions is yes. Unripe apples can be cooked slowly with brown sugar and molasses and made into apple butter, dried for potpourri or even cooked down to make pectin. Then there are the wasps. I discovered, to my surprise, that they actually are pollinators. Maybe one of our luscious garden tomatoes was the result of a flower on a plant having been pollinated by one of these stinging insects? In addition, wasps are predators, ridding us of other pests.
Even unlikely things sometimes do have value; however, the opposite fact is also true, especially where the Lord is concerned. What man considers valuable is frequently of little importance to God, 1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 16:15. The Apostle Paul learned this truth concerning his own life. When he began to see his life through God's lens of truth, his world was turned upside down. Let's glimpse Paul's before and after picture and observe how his viewpoint changed. In Philippians 3:1-19 and Galatians 1:13-16, we see Paul's list of what he once considered to be assets, followed by what God had done for him, unrelated to what Paul was able to offer the Savior.
Could there have been a more zealous man than Paul? Was anyone more driven to achieve what Paul considered to be good? How about his pedigree concerning his religious qualifications? Paul was a Pharisee, having belonged to the strictest group of his day. Didn't he come from the tribe of Benjamin, the same tribe from which Israel's first king had come? Didn't he have much to offer God? Wasn't he a rising star? Wouldn't he have been lauded by our society? Yet, when he met Jesus and was taught by the Lord the truth of John 6:28-29, Paul's view of what he had to hold out before God and man changed. What he once considered supremely valuable became of no importance. Why? It wasn't that there was anything inherently wrong with being a Pharisee or being from the Tribe of Benjamin. In man's eyes, Paul's resume was impressive. It is simply that God Who is Creator and Redeemer is the One Whose opinion matters concerning what is impressive, and He has said that man's righteousness no matter its basis apart from Jesus is as beautiful as filthy rags, Isaiah 64:6. Talk about a change of perspective.
So the choice belongs to each of us. Will we spend our lives looking at the world through man's lens or through the Lord's all-seeing eye? Will we take Jesus' words to heart when He asks what benefit anyone will accrue if he gains everything the world has to offer, yet loses His soul, Matthew 16:26? We can choose to hold tightly to what we have to offer God or we can exchange it for God's beautiful robe of righteousness, Isaiah 61:10.
Lord, Thank You for teaching Paul and us what is truly valuable and thank You that Your thoughts are not like our thoughts, Isaiah 55:8-9.