Thursday, 10 September 2020
Title: Gems or Junk?
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
Once upon a time, there lived an old man who adopted an orphan boy as his son. They went everywhere together, doing odd jobs for a living. Everywhere they went, the old man carried a treasure chest on his back and would not allow the boy to touch it, much less to open it! The key to the treasure chest was always in the man’s trouser pocket. Every night the boy would lie quietly, pretending to sleep. But he was actually watching the man sort through the contents of his treasure chest and talking to himself!
Came the night when the old man could no longer walk. Lying on his bed, he knew his time was up! He decided to tell the young boy his secret.
He said, “In this treasure chest are all the things I chose to keep in my mind and take me through life – doubts about my abilities, anger towards my parents for abandoning me, fear of being taunted by my friends, a sense of being hopelessly inferior to my peers, jealousy towards the rich and successful and worries about my declining health. Without these, I would have done better and lived the life of my dreams. By carrying them all these years, I have ended the way I have, and now the end is near!” He then handed the key to the treasure chest to the boy and breathed his last.
The boy immediately unlocked the chest as he could no longer contain his curiosity. He lifted the lid and lo and behold, the chest was filled to the brim with dirty, smelly stones!
The old man lived and died miserably. Unlike King David, he was totally unaware of God’s wonderful plan for mankind which David had described in Psalm 19 – that God has created an awesomely beautiful world for man to enjoy living in. God has also given man clear instructions on how to relate to God, how to relate to himself, how to relate to his fellow human beings, as well as how to relate to nature, so that by obeying these instructions, man can enjoy an abundantly happy life.
Unlike David, the old man’s heart and mind focused relentlessly on the filthy stones in his chest which deserved to be junked! David was totally the opposite. He prayed to God for his chest to be filled to the brim with gems of godly wisdom, which to him, were to be desired more than fine gold. Moreover, he knew that dwelling on these nuggets of wisdom would lead him to great reward.
What are we keeping in the treasure chest of our minds and hearts? Mistaken beliefs about ourselves that prevent us from reaching our maximum potential? Thoughts that weigh us down and rob us of our joy? Emotions that are troublesome and affect not only our relationships but our sleep as well?
Most people are obsessed with the need to keep the body in good shape. Plenty of time, energy and money are devoted to the pursuit of physical health. We all try hard to keep every part of our bodies at peak performance level in order to enjoy the benefits of excellent health.
Sadly the treasure chest of our minds and hearts is often neglected simply because it is invisible and unseen by the human eye. We carefully watch the food that enters our body but the food that enters our mind is often not as meticulously scrutinised!
We allow the festering of anger, fear, hate, jealousy, inferiority, self-doubt, loneliness, guilt, greed, desire for revenge, regret, anxiety and worry. Dwelling perpetually on them will inevitably destroy our emotional health and adversely affect our physical and spiritual well-being. They are like unhealthy junk food which are low in nutrients and frequent consumption of such food will lead to a host of health ailments! Indeed, we have already been warned in Proverbs 4:23 to “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
How can we do a massive clean-up of the treasure chest and replace the troublesome emotions with positive ones like joy, love, peace, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, compassion, contentment, gratitude and hope?
How can the meditations of our heart be made pleasing to God? We simply have to thrash out the junk and bring in the gems! This can only be done by aligning our thoughts with the prescriptions laid down by God for every situation that may arise in our journey of life. To be able to align our thoughts, we will need to familiarise ourselves with the contents of God’s Word, the Bible, which contains valuable gems of wisdom. These gems are more precious than rubies and clinging onto them will enable us to practise godly living in a godless world.
When we thrash out the junk, we do not leave the treasure chest empty. We adopt the most effective SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) formulated by Apostle Paul for ensuring mental and emotional well-being, spelt out in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Unlike the miserable old man, we will deny harmful thoughts and emotions entry into our treasure chest. With utmost earnestness, we will “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5)
For we know that wrong thoughts will lead to wrong emotions, which in turn will result in wrong behaviour.
Each of us holds the key to our own treasure chest, kept in the deep recesses of our inner being, unseen by the human eye. One key. One treasure chest. I cannot open your chest. You cannot open mine.
Do we, like the old man, want to be weighed down and be in an endless pit of misery by keeping dirty stones inside? Or do we want to be like King David, keeping gems of godly wisdom and soaring like the eagle to the heights of joyful and abundant living? The choice is yours, and mine – GEMS OR JUNK?
Our Heavenly Father, we ask Your forgiveness. What goes on in our minds and hearts often cause You grief. We pray for Your strength to guard our thoughts and emotions, so that they will conform to Your will and purpose for our lives. Enable us to thrash the junk and seek to keep only the gems of godly wisdom which will lead us to the joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
一个晚上，老年人再也走不动了。 他躺在床上，他知道自己的时候到了！他决定 把他的秘密告诉这个男孩。
他说：“这个藏宝箱里，全是我选择要终生牢记在心并伴随我度过一生的事物—— 我对自己能力的置疑、对父母抛弃我的愤怒、被朋友嘲笑的恐惧感、因逊色于我的同龄人而绝望的感觉、对富人和成功者的嫉妒，并对我每况愈下的健康状况而感到的担忧。要是没有这些，我会做得更好且过着我梦想中的生活。这些年来，我背负着它们，而今要如此结束我的一生了，现在结局已近了！” 接着，他把藏宝箱的钥匙交给了男孩，就咽下了最后一口气。
我们允许愤怒、恐惧、仇恨、嫉妒、自卑、自我怀疑、孤独、罪疚、贪婪、报仇、遗憾、焦虑和忧虑在我们里面溃烂。长期潜于如此的精神状态必将破坏我们的心理健康，并将对我们的身心灵产生不利的影响。它们就像那些营养成份低又不健康的垃圾食品，经常食用此类食物会导致一系列的健康疾病！确实，箴言4:23中已经告诫我们 “你要保守你心，胜过保守一切 。（或作你要切切保守你心）因为 一生的果效，是由心发出。”
当我们扔掉垃圾时，我们不会把藏宝箱留空。我们采用使徒保罗制定的最有效的SOP（标准作业程序），以确保心理和情感健康。这在腓立比书4:8中阐明：“弟兄们，我还有未尽的话。凡是真实的，可敬的，公义的，清洁的，可爱的，有美 名的。若有什么德行，若有 什么称赞，这些事你们都要 思念。”
我们是否像那老年人一样，把脏石头藏在里面，被压得喘不过气来，陷入无尽的痛苦深渊？或者我们愿像大卫王一样，储存着圣洁智慧的宝石，如鹰展翅上腾，到喜乐丰盛生活的高度翱翔？选择在于您，和我 — 宝石还是垃圾？