Precious vs Worthless
We live in a world filled with corruption. In Romans 8:21-22, Paul says,
“that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”
The culmination of this condition does not take place until there are new heavens and a new earth. In the meantime, we are stuck with a world system infected with the influences of the devil’s plan to kill, steal and destroy. Yet God is still speaking through the prophets and His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2).
In Old Testament times, the prophets were the method God used to encourage and rebuke His people. Jeremiah was commissioned early on to be God’s spokesman in one of the most challenging times for the Hebrew nation. He would spend his entire public ministry warning the people of impending judgment, yet they refused to accept his warnings. This is why he is called “the Weeping Prophet.”
In Jeremiah 1:9-10, the Lord touched the mouth of Jeremiah as a young man and said,
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Early on, God anointed Jeremiah to be His spokesman to a nation that would ultimately reject His message.
The central theme in any prophet’s ministry is his attitude and approach toward the Word of God. In Jeremiah 15:16, Jeremiah’s sentiments toward the Word become apparent when he says to the Lord,
“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”
The Word of God is a matter of the heart, to be ingested like food because of the nourishment it provides and the strength it gives to anyone who approaches it in this way. In Psalm 1:2-3, the Scriptures say,
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Meditation on the Word of God brings the believer to a new place, where the challenges of life do not slow him down, and he finds prosperity.
As Jeremiah had to constantly face the rejection of God’s words for His people, it was not surprising that he would get discouraged. In Jeremiah 15:18-19, he asks God,
“Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?”
God’s response in verse 19 brings definition, “if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.” The prophet’s job was not to make the people accept everything God said but to make sure it was communicated clearly. The Lord continued in verse 20,
“Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you.”
Amid the wickedness surrounding him, Jeremiah needed to distinguish the precious from the worthless.
The holy and the profane
What does it mean to extract the precious from the worthless? Ezekiel 22:26 may provide insight,
“Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.”
In Ezekiel’s day, the priests were not able to distinguish between the holy and the profane, so they could not teach it to the people. This would be corrected in the time of the future temple in Ezekiel 44:23; a wall in this temple separated the holy things from the common ones.
People need to be taught the difference between that which is holy, consecrated, set apart, and profane, unholy, common. According to Psalm 101:2-3, these are a matter of the integrity of the heart; one must decide to “set no worthless thing before my eyes.”
Paul’s last letter before his martyrdom was his second to Timothy. He instructed Timothy that if anyone separates or cleanses himself from worldly influences, including that which is common,
“he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
The principle of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes, motivates the committed believer to acknowledge the warfare within the culture intended to separate the believer from his God. Even religious activity can be considered worthless when it is not motivated by God’s heart. In Isaiah 1:16-17,
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
Righteous motives are those that encompass a divine result.
Pure & undefiled religion
In James 1:26-27,
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world“.
James tells us that the purity of religious expression is found in its ultimate object, that those of greatest need would be touched and the believer left unscathed by worldly influences.
Ordained in 1994, planted a church in Northeast Ohio in 1998, spent 12 years as its pastor, have had a ministry to nursing homes for 15 years until Covid hit in March 2020, spent 3 years ministering to recovering men at Salvation Army. With all the Covid restrictions, God has led me to write blogs, a brand new way to communicate the messages He gives me.