Thursday, July 10, 2014

Empty Inside

There is a great oak tree at the entrance of our subdivision which welcomes all who turn into our streets.  Originally, there was one on each side of the street, but a few years ago a hurricane damaged one to the point it had to be removed.

The other day, I don't know if it was the result of a storm or if it just happened spontaneously, part of this grand old tree fell down, the huge branches covering the yard and the street.

What I didn't realize when I first saw the fallen tree was that it fell because the entire inside had rotted away.  While there were still beautiful large limbs and an abundance of green leaves, the inside was almost hollow.  This gave no support for the tremendous weight of the limbs.

Once the homeowner began cutting the limbs out of the street and yard, we could see that even many of the limbs themselves had hollow places in them.

Until the tree fell, looking at it, one would only be impressed with its beauty and grace, it's size and longevity.  But now we know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story."

The tree needed the strength and soundness of the trunk to continue.  The beauty and structure of the limbs mean nothing without what should have been inside the trunk.  The same can be said of us.

It is well and good to do things for the Lord, and in fact, we are called to do many things.  But if our heart, our motives, are not right, we are like this tree with an empty trunk.  In fact, the Apostle Paul said it this way:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. "   I Corinthians 13:1-3
All these things he mentions are great things, let's face it, how many of us have "moved mountains?"  Yet, if our motive is not love of God and love of man, then however great the thing we are doing, no matter how earnestly we perform it, no matter how diligently we continue it is, it is nothing.

It is amazing to me how easily wrong motives can creep in with the right motives.  The motive of wanting to be noticed, wanting to be appreciated.  The motive of thinking I am good because I have done one thing or another.  I suspect that often we have motives we would be ashamed of it there were made known, and yet we don't even know we have them.

I am not one to suggest anyone participate in self-inspection.  In fact, I don't believe the Bible teaches any type of focus on ourselves.  I do believe, however, that as David did, we can ask the Lord to inspect our motives.

 "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," (Psalm 139:23, 24.)

May we open our eyes to that leading of the Lord, to His correction in our lives when necessary.  And may we also seek that one will: the eternal glory of Christ.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing else.

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