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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just who do you think you are?

Ever had someone (possibly a parent) ask you "Just who do you think you
are?" I know that's been directed at me on occasion during my youngster
years. Usually when I had operated, let's say, beyond the scope of my
authority. I thought about this question when I happened upon a little story
told by the great opera singer, Enrico Caruso, who at the time was a famous
person and pretty much known worldwide.

He said he was in the United States on a tour and was driving through the
Wisconsin countryside when he realized that he was lost. He stopped at a
farm house to ask directions and for a drink of water to slake his thirst.
The farmer was very friendly and since it was about noontime, he was invited
to stay for the midday meal, which he did.

After the meal was over and he was preparing to leave he thought it might
please this family to know just who it was that they had entertained, IE: a
highly celebrated personality. So he told them his name. The farmer was
flabber-gasted and said to his wife, "This is a great thing. Who would have
thought that I would have as a guest in my house the great explorer -
Robinson Crusoe!"

Mr. Caruso reported this as being a very humbling occasion in his life. But,
haven't we all been humbled on occasion ourselves? But, not only does it
humble us, it sort of wakes us up to the fact that maybe, just maybe, we're
not as important as we might think we are. And furthermore, does it really
matter "who we are" as far as the world is concerned?

In order to take this little story and make a spiritual lesson from it, I'm
going to go first to a teacher of righteousness, also known as "The
Preacher," who, besides being inspired by God, is probably more qualified to
speak on this subject as any other Bible author. Of course I'm referring to
Solomon. Let's look at a truth that he tells us in Eccl. 5:16-17. This is a
great passage to instruct us as to how much our earthly status amounts to.

"As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and
shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. This
also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is
there to him who toils for the wind?" (ESV)

If you've never considered this before, isn't it a shocker to find out that,
as far as your "earthly" value is concerned, you'll leave this world no
better than you came into it? However, "spiritual" value is another thing
and that's going to really be the gist of our lesson today.

Yes, when we make our final departure, like the Bible says, our bodies will
return to the elements from which they originally came. You know, "dust to
dust, ashes to ashes." (Gen. 2:7 and Eccl. 3:20)

But "spiritually" this isn't the case. In Eccl. 12:7 we read there that our
"souls" come from God and that is where they return after departing the body
of "dust." There it will be housed (if that's a suitable allegory) in one of
two places to await the final judgment.
I doesn't matter who you are as a human being nor what you attained as far
as rank, position, fame or "earthly" value. Or how important you are to your
fellow humans. What matters is what your soul is to God. What it's condition
is when God gets it back. Also consider this; by keeping your "soul's"
condition acceptable to God, your earthly person will be an asset and
acceptable to the world you live in.

You see, when God gave you your soul it was pure. It had no blemishes or
warts. It wasn't soiled or dirty in any way. It was perfect. Therefore, the
most important thing in our lives is the condition of our soul when we
return it to "He who gave it." IE: will it be clean or unclean? Will it be
washed and pure like "snow" (Ps. 51:7)? Or, will it be filthy from the dirt
and grime left on it by the sins of the world?

One of the terms the Bible uses in relation to the "soul" is the word
"garment." That's a great analogy when it comes to a lesson such as we're
looking at today. If you believe that it is of utmost importance to "clean"
your "garment" then it would stand to reason that how that cleansing is
accomplished is also of utmost importance, wouldn't it? Let's talk about
that a moment.
First thing to know is, that the method, the cleansing agent, so to speak,
was not left up to us. Just like labels for cleaning that we find on our
earthly garments, we're given explicit and "immutable" (another Bible word
meaning "unchangeable") instructions as to how our "souls" are to be
"washed."

It's in Rev. 1:5 that we find the "agent" that is specified to be used for
the laundering of our "garments." "And from Jesus Christ, the faithful
witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the
earth. To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
(NKJV)

To fully understand what is said in that passage, and to see more detailed
instructions per our "garment's" label, follow these directions: Acts. 19:5
tells us that "baptism into the name of Jesus Christ" is required and then
in Acts. 22:16 shows us that it is by this action that we "wash away our
sins." One more passage that is beneficial here is the one in Gal. 3:26-27
where we're told that by being "baptized into Christ" that we've "put on
Christ." And, by having done that, we're counted as being "Children of God."
If we try cleaning our "garment" using any other method than that specified
by The Gospel, no matter how sincere we are about our "washing," it will not
work. Man did not make our soul, therefore man cannot dictate how our soul
is to be cleansed. Only the "Maker" of the "garment" has that authority.
Should someone attempt to clean their "garment" by any means other than God's
instructions, I'm afraid that they'd be like the thought expressed by
Solomon; they might as well be "toiling for the wind" for all the good it
will do them. Or, as said by Christ Himself, "In vain do they worship
Me...... " (Mt. 15:9)

In closing, let's turn that thought around and look at how effective our
"cleansing efforts" will be if we do them as the Lord instructs: "Therefore,
my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work
of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (1Cor.
15:58 NKJV)

Ron Covey

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