|Vol. 13 No. 8 August 2011||
Ernest S. Underwood
I grew up on a farm in West Tennessee. We mostly grew cotton. Oh, how hot it could get in the middle of the afternoon as we chopped that cotton. I remember those afternoon clouds that would begin to gather, and kid-like, I would watch them with the hope that they would come on over and give us some rain. If this happened, we would get to go to the house for the rest of the day. If you have experienced this, you know just how disappointing it was when those clouds passed over and did not have a drop of rain.
Peter used this very thing to describe false teachers. In 2 Peter 2:17, he wrote: “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” He further describes them as having “great swelling words of emptiness.” We have all heard them — a lot of noise, a lot of wind – but no substance. Political correctness, feelings, opinions, and denominational doctrines are “wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest.” As such, they will not get you to heaven.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him” (Hebrews 2:1-3).
Webster’s New American Dictionary briefly defines “neglect” as “1. To omit performance of, as a duty. 2. To fail to care for, as, he neglects his home. 3. To disregard, as he neglected my principal argument. Syn. Slight. To neglect is to fail to give proper attention to some duty or obligation; to disregard is to neglect intentionally; to slight is to treat with indifference and often contempt. Ant. Attend to, perform.”
One does not have to abuse his body in order to lose his physical health. All he has to do is to neglect it. If he does not take proper care of himself and provide proper nourishment and exercise for the physical man, it will eventually catch up with him. The same principle applies in the spiritual realm. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). “Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18; see also 2 Peter 1:5-11).
A man would not have to abuse his wife and children in order to fail them. He has failed them if he neglects them. The worse kind of neglect is to fail to provide spiritual leadership, direction and the proper example for them in the home and in the church. A man would not have to be a crook in order to fail in his business. All he would have to do is simply neglect it and it will fail. A farmer cannot be successful if he neglects his land. He must tend it and cultivate it. If he does not take care of the land, it will eventually grow up and go back to an uncultivated state. Take note of 2 Peter 2:20-22.
The soul of man must be taken care of. One is playing the devil’s game to ignore it. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Be not deceived, God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6 7-8).