Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 8 August 2010
Page 11

Exercise in Futility

One of the members at Highland Home told me about something that he observed while sitting on his porch the other day. Somehow, a little one-inch worm that was hanging off the edge of the roof caught his attention. He watched it as it started to lower itself on some kind of “string” that it appeared to be creating. It took long minutes of obviously great toil. Finally, the worm neared the first step of the porch. It abruptly stopped, and began to climb up, apparently eating the “string” it had made. Again, it took minutes of difficult labor for the worm to reach the top again. Then the little worm just made its way across the roof and out of sight.

Before I go further, I have no scientific knowledge about this worm. I do not know why it did all that it did. I am sure that it was doing what God built into it through nature to do. I do not wish by my observations to indict God’s directions to that little worm. However, I cannot help but think of some ideas that this little drama of the worm brings to mind.

If you have no goal, effort alone is not enough. Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision there involves, in context, the keeping of the law. However, I truly believe that the expression is not misused when we speak of the vision (based on truth) that leads us in a proper direction. Too many people have no direction, and they just go up and down, going nowhere, like our little worm friend.

We can waste a lot of time and effort going nowhere. Sometimes we put so much effort into things that do not really matter. There may be a hidden reason that the worm did what it did, but it appears to be an exercise in futility. Worrying is just one example of an exercise in futility. It just wastes our time and depletes our energy, with no discernible benefit (Philippians 4:6-7). We can spend so much time majoring in the minors that we fail to maintain the majors.

Sometimes others will think our efforts to be futile, when we know they are not. Paul said, “I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Many see our time spent in activities such as worship, prayer, Bible study and other religious activities as a waste of time. We know better. I remember being criticized by some fellow preachers when I was a young married man because I said that I wanted to call my wife when we were going to be late. They thought that was a futile effort. I thought it was a necessary politeness (and still do). We can think of many other examples. I wonder how many times that worm will stop and do the same thing. I wonder why it does it. If it could talk to us, what would it say about its activities? Maybe nothing more than, “I don’t know why I do it.” Or it might say, “Because that is what God designed me to do.” There is no more noble motivation (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

I hope that little worm did not take all that time and expend all that effort for no good reason. Yet, much more, I hope that we will not be participants in “exercises of futility” in our lives. Some of those could keep us out of heaven.

The Plague of Singing

Adam B. Cozort

Adam B. CozortThe beauty of singing as a means of praise to God is something that truly cannot be paralleled by any of man’s inventions. Beyond the fact of its commandment by God and His statements that this is what He wants to hear, there are few things that can bring the wonderful sentiments of God’s graciousness and glory to bear like singing.

Unfortunately, we seem to have a plague among the congregations in American society today. It seems that many congregations are filled with individuals who are afraid to sing out or unwilling to sing at all. These individuals, many times, do not understand the situation in which they are placing themselves with their actions.

Singing is a command of God (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). As such, when we fail to fulfill that command, we are sinning because sin, by definition is going against God’s laws and commands (1 John 3:4). We must take very seriously the things that are stated in Scripture concerning this topic. They are not suggestions, but are commands that must be upheld.

When one does not sing as God has commanded, there are a couple of things which that individual cannot complete as commanded. That individual cannot make melody in/with his or her heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). There is a direct correlation made between “singing” and making melody in/with the heart. The degree to which we sing is the degree to which the melody of the heart is made to the Lord. It is the instrument by which the joy of the heart is placed before God. When one refuses to sing, or to sing so as to be heard, he is refusing to use the melody of the heart and thus shows an unwillingness to present a heart of gladness to God. It, therefore, is difficult to understand how some of these individuals can bellow songs from the radio throughout the week or sing in many other places and on many other occasions, but become eerily void of determinable sound in the assembly. Friends, such things should not be so.

A second thing that cannot be done when one does not sing, or does not sing audibly enough to be heard, is that he or she cannot teach through song as commanded. Colossians 3:16 commands us to teach and admonish one another through the songs that we sing. These songs are to be mutually beneficial to all who are present. The unwillingness to fulfill this command is just as detrimental to one’s soul as the unwillingness to tell others about Christ. It demonstrates what borders on a fear of teaching others about the one who died that we might live. Yet, there have been individuals who will talk to friends right and left about biblical matters and teach the truth in Bible classes, but will not sing and fulfill their responsibilities to teach in that manner. One cannot do such and be consistent.

There are various reasons and explanations given as to why we do not sing, or do not sing out in the assembly, whether it be the argument of being “unable to carry a tune in a bucket,” or being unable to read music, and on and on down the list it goes. Yet, those things only serve as excuses for behavior that God will not excuse.

The Psalmist proclaims, “Sing aloud unto God our strength, make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1). Though the commandments of the Old Law (such as the use of instrumental music) cannot serve as authority for us today; the attitudes referenced for their worship should be present in ours as well. They were told to make a “joyful noise,” not a melodically perfect noise. It seems that many times we are more concerned with how our singing sounds to our own ears than how it sounds to God. Yet, it is the melody of the heart demonstrated through our singing that is important to Him. Maybe we do place too much emphasis on the sound of “four part harmony” in our services. The emphasis must be on the attitude, the words, and the action, not on the perceived effect of the output.

Let us therefore look at our singing, not as a plague, but as a privilege. Not as a chore that we must do, but as a cherished part of our worship that we can do. Above all, let us worship God as He commanded.

[The emphasis intended is not that we shout our songs or that we reach a certain decibel of loudness in our singing, but simply that we sing, which for the purposes cited in the article above requires audible participation. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]

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