THOMAS DREIER TELLS the story of a an eighty-year-old man who was in the process of planting a young peach tree.
The old man’s neighbor asked, “Do you expect to eat peaches from that tree?”
“No,” he said.
“At my age I know I won’t.
But all my life I’ve enjoyed peaches–never from a tree I had planted myself.
I wouldn’t have had peaches if other men hadn’t done what I’m doing now.
I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted peach trees for me.” (David Dunn, “Bread Upon The Waters,” Trying Giving Yourself Away, 1947, 22).
THOUGHT: We are often unconscious of the fruits of our own thoughtfulness, and likewise of the thoughtfulness other saints have invested for our benefit, perhaps many years ago.
Shouldn’t we be planting peach trees for future generations (Eccl. 3:2; 1 Cor. 3:6; John 4:35-38)?
“How quickly and effortlessly can we slide into a series of small decisions that land us in a tangled web from which there is no easy exit.” Erwin Lutzer, “Conflict with Doubt,” Growing Through Conflict, 48
“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20; cf. Galatians 6:1a).
MODERN RELATIVISTIC THINKING suggests that we have no rule or standard by which we can distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, or moral and immoral.
Hilary Putnam, a Harvard University professor, sums it up when he declares that moral and ethical judgments are “something that we ultimately judge by the ‘seat of our pants'” (Alan Crippen II, ed., “The Train Wreck of Truth and Knowledge,” Reclaiming the Culture, 59). We must come to see that there is no possibility of a ‘foundation’ for ethics…” (Ibid), he asserts.
Is the professor correct–are morals and ethics based upon our own subjective opinions? Are there no moral absolutes?
Consider for a moment the repercussions of Mr. Putnam’s philosophical extreme. (NOTE: The following excerpts are very explicit):
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20).
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
SCRIPTURE URGES US to mature in our faith to the point that we can find wisdom and instruction during times of difficulty (cf. Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 12:10).
It’s a biblical approach (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6-7), but the tuition fees are expensive and the courses can be incredibly challenging.
The Psalmist wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psm. 119:67; cf. Rom. 8:28–emphasis mine, mb).
So, what are some of the courses we must take in order to get our adversity degree (1 Pet. 5:10)?
PERSPECTIVE 101. Paul taught, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).
Noted author, Robert Fulghum, once wrote: “One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. Once needs to learn the difference.
REALITY MANAGEMENT. Jesus said, “It rains on the just and the unjust…” (Mat. 5:45). Job said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble…” (Job 14:1).
Everybody experiences pain. None of us are exempt from tragedy and problems simply because we are children of God. If baptism served as an insurance policy against any form of harm or heartache, folks would accept Jesus for no other reason that to be spared such.
LIFE APPRECIATION. The Psalmist asked rhetorically, “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Psm. 89:48; cf. Prov. 27:1; Heb. 9:27).
Death does not discriminate because of age. Read the obituary column in your local newspaper. People of all ages die–infants in the womb, innocent children, teens, young and middle-aged adults, and senior citizens all step into eternity on a daily basis.
We learn to be grateful and thankful for our life when we recognize that our time on earth is limited at best and that we have no promise of tomorrow (cf. Jas. 4:14; Psm. 39:4; 78:39; 90:10, 12).