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Futility.


Just read another convicting passage from the Apostle Paul's pen. In the introductory verses of Romans Paul noted the sinful nature of the human species. What he wrote is certainly an accurate historical depiction of human responsiveness to God. Pause over these profound observations in the words Paul was inspired to write---

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and

unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can

be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible

attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever

since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are

without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give

thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were

darkened. aiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the

immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping

things.

Romans 1: 18-23, ESV

There's a good bit of debate about the specific era of history Saul of Tarsus was referencing. His words would prophetically apply to the broad spread of of mankind's relationship with our Creator. In my own heart, however, he must have been writing about his own tribe, the people of Israel. There were certainly times in their epoch when his words were obviously accurate. One that registers with me was prior to their entrance to the Land of Promise. In repeated episodes Moses had recorded God's warnings about entering the land God had promised to Abraham. A sampling would include the following passages---

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his

rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are

full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply

and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart

be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness,

with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who

brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that

your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the

end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten

me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power

to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is

this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and

worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations

that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not

obey the voice of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 8: 11-20, ESV

Our all knowing God had predicted that Israel would forget God's gracious provisions and guidance once they were settled in the Promised Land. They would view the bounty of their accomplishments as the result of their own efforts, what Moses had described as their own "power and might". Connect the dots further and realize the accuracy of what Paul wrote later--- "they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him". The result was that "...they became futile in their thinking". They didn't honor their Sovereign God or give thanks to him.

Reading that fast-forwarded me to the present, a time when the blessings of life are attributed to our work ethic, corporate brilliance, and the goodness of mankind. We do not honor God, and, as a result, don't offer him thanks. The outcome of that life formula is futility. You know, emptiness, life without meaning or purpose. The union of Paul's words and the prophetic revelations of Moses are a reminder of life without gratefulness. It's no wonder that so many areas of human life today just don't make a lick of sense.

Next week is Thanksgiving. If we are not genuinely grateful, or thankful, it's just another family meal, or parade, or big game, or Christmas sale. And, that spells futility.

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