Monday, February 07, 2011

Beneficial vs Detrimental

I was honored to have my counselor, Tom Pals, speak to the Grace River family yesterday.  We are not yet recording our messages and so I can't give you his actual presentation, but I can share the notes that I took.  This is not verbatim but rather is the impressions that I wrote down as I listened.

"The Lord knows the thoughts of man.  He knows that they are futile" (Psalm 94:11).

Futile means "empty, vain, unproductive".  We all think that our thoughts are very wise but in reality they are futile.  God says so! 

In the middle of the Garden of Eden, God placed "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" (Genesis 3:8-9).  "Knowledge" is knowing enough to be able to think or act.  For example, a person who has knowledge of a computer can effectively use it.  Genesis 3:9 describes a tree of the "knowledge of good and evil" or perhaps better translated as the tree of the "knowledge of what's beneficial and what's detrimental".  This particular tree is the only tree that Adam and Eve were forbidden from touching.  God did not want them burdened with the responsibility of having to decide "beneficial" vs "detrimental".  Only God who is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful can rightly determine beneficial from detrimental.  Our futile minds will confuse beneficial with detrimental and detrimental with beneficial and thus we screw it all up.

Joseph, having been severely abused by his brothers, was able to eventually declare, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good" (Genesis 50:20).  In other words, "what you meant to be detrimental, God caused to be beneficial".  Joseph, like us, likely would not see the benefit of being sold into slavery.  However, once he saw how it played out and how God used it to save his family--he could declare it beneficial.  Our futile perceptions lead us to draw the wrong conclusions about what is beneficial and what is detrimental.  Only God knows!  Futile perceptions usually declare pain to be detrimental and pleasure to be beneficial.  That's certainly not how God sees it. 

I ran out of gas on Sunday and I worked very hard to solve the problem myself so that I would not be embarrassed or, in my mind be seen to be irresponsible.  After all, I know that cars need gas to run and I was aware that my car was running low on fuel.  However, by hiding my need, I did not allow the Body of Christ to care for me and to meet my need.  My shame prevented the growth of intimacy between my friends and myself.  I declared the situation "detrimental" and thus prevented something "beneficial" from occurring.  My perceived knowledge of beneficial vs detrimental devalued life, devalued my friends, and thus I devalued the gifts that God has placed within the body.

We are not God and therefore we are not able to discern what's beneficial from what's detrimental.  We would do well to simply put down the fruit and to slowly back away from the tree...

No comments: