It has repeatedly been suggested that ministers can shake sermons, speeches, or articles “out of their sleeves.” Ah, how sometimes I wish that were true! Five days ago I received a reminder from our editor that my article for the next Beacon Lights was due ten days earlier. I should have remembered. I’m sorry, Mr. Editor.
But what to write about? That sleeve method does not work for me. Just choosing the subject is a major project. While in a quandary about this, I turned from my typewriter and began cleaning out one of my desk drawers. The incentive to do this was the fact that the previous evening my wife kindly began sorting our unfiled materials and discarding that which belonged in “file 13.” There comes a feeling of relief when finally all the “junk” is discarded and that which is useful is returned to its proper place.
Strange, isn’t it, how quickly one can accumulate much “junk”? We have found that to be true particularly when we have had to move from one home to another. Then one discovers all the boxes of materials which were put aside because perhaps someday these might be useful. Soon attics are cluttered. Drawers are filled. Closets have no more room. When out of necessity – or desperation – one finally sorts out all of these things, he finds that much “junk” has accumulated which could best be thrown away.
And when one thinks of it, how much is the same not true with us spiritually? We have been called of God – called from sin and evil unto true conversion. That means that our allegiance has been changed: we belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. We are now accounted as pilgrims and strangers in this world. We, on our pilgrimage, have one thought in mind: our home which is in heaven. And one on such a journey must keep his baggage at a minimum. There is certainly no place for “junk.” That would not be useful in the pilgrimage – and there would be no place for it in heaven. Rather the spiritual pilgrim must make wise use of what he has: his time, his talents, his possessions, in order that he may be properly prepared for that time when he arrives home.
Surely, that home which is ours in Christ Jesus is a beautiful place. There will be perfection and holiness there. All things will exist in perfect harmony. There will be no excess or left-overs – or “junk” if you will. That must be a glorious place, indeed.
But what spiritual “junk” we can accumulate here on our pilgrimage! Utterly useless tuff! This “junk” is neither profitable for us here on the earth – and surely will be useless for heaven. There is a special danger, I suppose, in one’s youth to begin to collect such “junk” nevertheless. It clutters up one’s mind. It seems to fill one’s heart. It interferes with the seeking of one’s goal. Yet careless Christians insist on holding on to all this “junk” – and even continue to accumulate it.
Such “junk” includes that involved in modern means of communication. Certain misuse of books, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television can soon clutter up our lives exceedingly. How easily one can spend hours in front of a television set. It might properly be asked: how much of the time spent there is for our spiritual benefit? What of all the things we might want to see, can be of use to us in heaven? Or, for that matter, what profit is most of it for our lives here on this earth? How can it help us in our pilgrimage? Much of that which we see clutters our lives and interferes with the seeking of that which is spiritual.
And how much “junk” one can accumulate when reading books or magazines! Some reading of materials of this world can be beneficial for the child of God. One can see, for instance, in news reports and commentaries how that the signs of Scripture concerning Christ’s return are being fulfilled. One can read history, and in the light of God’s Word, he can see how this is the unfolding of the plan and purpose of our God. But much of our reading is of such material which cannot benefit us in heaven – and does in no way benefit us here on the earth either. It serves merely as that which clutters – and interferes with our spiritual lives. We can become so entangled with the writings of men that the Writing of God assumes second place in our lives.
Then there is the “junk” of entertainments of various sorts. Entertainment for the child of God has a place. I cannot deny that. But often children of God can seek entertainment which is contrary to the instructions of Scripture, or may place undue emphasis upon entertainment. This becomes easily spiritual “junk” which often causes Christians to stumble as they walk toward their heavenly home.
Or there may be the “junk” of evil, worldly philosophies or earthly goals. Repeatedly, natural man in this world emphasizes goals which are purely earthly and temporal. Man has the goal of making this earth the utopia which he desires. Man has the goal of seeking honor, wealth, or praise of men. He goes to school to attain these. He chooses an occupation in which he can more easily obtain these. How soon we can clutter up our lives with this same sort of “junk.”
One looks at himself, at his life – and he soon sees by grace what a great deal of “junk” does truly clutter his life. All sorts of things now interfere with a proper seeking of the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness. Many of these interfering things I like and want to keep. I try to convince myself that perhaps in some way these things may prove useful in the future. I try to convince myself that these things are not much in the way. I have room both for the “junk” and for those things which are useful.
But I must not try to fool myself. “Junk” has no place in my spiritual life. On that which is earthly, temporal, which passes away – I cannot place my heart.
Rather, that which is useful must be that which I seek. Prayer is one of these spiritually beneficial things. It is the fruit of the work of regeneration with us. Through it, I can come before God in thanksgiving and supplication. Nothing may interfere with that holy exercise. Seeking God’s Word is another. God has revealed Himself infallibly in His Word. He speaks there of the wonder of His Sovereignty, and of my salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. That Word is beneficial both now (especially now), and hereafter. Choosing godly friends is another beneficial thing. And so one could continue.
One’s spiritual life must be filled with such things which are beneficial for us on our pilgrimage – and for us when we finally arrive at our home. Junk clutters.
Examine yourselves, young people. How much “junk” are you storing away in your minds and lives? By grace, recognize that – and cast it away. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness…
Now, Mr. Editor, back to my drawer. I’ve repeatedly cleaned it out before – but the “junk” repeatedly seems to return and must be cleaned out again. Perhaps if I keep it clean, I won’t lose the schedule for articles you sent me – and my next article will be one time.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 10 February 1971