Tag Archives: life and death

Two Boxes

Smartest thing I ever did was take a lesson from an expert in organizing clutter.  His name was…   let’s see, it’s around here somewhere…   Well, anyway, one of his tips was to take two big boxes and label them, “Keep” and “Pitch.”  Then, everything you pick up, toss it into one box or the other.  I discovered this system only works if you actually get rid of the “Pitch” box.

A similar task confronts those who are given new life through faith in Christ, sorting through the elements of their old nature and new, keeping the new and discarding the old.  Paul explained this process as the logical extension of our having “died with Christ” (Colossians 2:20a) and having been “raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1a – See the previous post, “Refocus”).  In a sense, he said, get yourself two boxes, a “Death” box and a “Life” box.  Toss the parts for which Christ died and keep the parts for which He was raised. 

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

(Colossians 3:5)

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. – ( Colossians 3:8)

New things Paul listed to put in the “Life” box and keep included:

“…compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – (Colossians 3:12b-14)

Clutter can be debilitating; it feels so free to finally get it sorted and cleaned out. Similarly, the clutter of old habits and attitudes can wear us down and tangle us up with guilt and shame. Instead of fighting that battle, Paul says, drop all that old stuff into the “Death” box and haul it to the dump. Of course it is not entirely as easy as that. You will probably have to repeat the cleanup from time to time (just like you do in the basement closet!). But the boost you experience each time is worth it.

Testing, Testing

When Jeff Bezos said Amazon was testing drones for package delivery, I’m sure he meant that they were putting the drones to the test in various kinds of bad circumstances, to make sure they would respond faithfully to the commands sent to them by Amazon.  No doubt, there are bad guys out there who will also try to influence and control those drones but in a different way.  They are going to try to override the delivery instructions, to tempt them off course, so to speak, in order to steal the goods.  Presumably, there will be two kinds of testing going on for the drones – perhaps even simultaneously.  Amazon’s testing will be designed to make them succeed; the other type of testing will be designed to make them fail.

There are two kinds of trials, two kinds of tests that happen to us humans, too.  God allows us to encounter trials, in order to help us learn to operate responsively to His instructions.  But we also encounter temptations (in Greek – both “trial” and “temptation” are the same word) designed to cause us to go astray or be destroyed.  This kind of test, temptations, come from Satan.  Remember the distinction between those two kinds of testing as you read these words from Jesus’ brother, James:

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:13-14)

Temptations that drag us down toward evil and destruction never come from God.  His tests are designed to help us “fly right.”  Satan’s temptations usually are experienced as “evil desires.”

“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:15)

If we respond to the commands from the One Who made us, the end result is life, not death:

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” (James 1:16-18)

Quote: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.