A few weeks ago my pastor (Al Pittman – Calvary Worship Center, Feb. 7th, 2016) said something in his message that really blew me away. He stated, “If Jesus is not the Prize… then you are running the wrong race.”
This has stirred me up big time, and caused me to ask many questions: Is JESUS the reason I do what I do? Is it Him alone? Is His glory… making HIS name famous… all that truly matters to me?
I’m finding that my answers truly matter to GOD, and that He is greatly interested in whether or not I’m clinging to Him.
Jeremiah 13:1-7 – Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” So I got a sash according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist. And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. Now it came to pass after many days that the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing. (NKJV)
Basically the Lord would have people, men like Jeremiah, do some pretty strange stuff in order to make a point. In this case, the LORD commands Jeremiah to buy a linen cloth (sash) and wrap it around his waist. This was something like a belt that would be part of any Levite priest’s wardrobe.
The priests wore this linen sash as a symbol of purity and fitness for service. In the book of Leviticus, the priests were commanded to bathe before dressing so that none of the holy garments would get spoiled with water.
Leviticus 16:4 – “He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. Theseare holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on.” (NKJV).
Just as the linen stood for purity and service, Israel was supposed to be a people of purity– a kingdom of priests– who were fit for service in God’s kingdom.
So up to this point, all is normal. The priest, puts the sash on tight. It’s clean. He’s clean. Everyone is happy. It all points to the fact that he is fit for service to the Lord.
But then the Lord has Jeremiah do something a bit awkward. He commands him to travel a great distance and hide the clean sash in the crevice of a rock… and just leave it there. He obeyed and didn’t return until the Lord told him to… many days later. When he went to retrieve the sash he found it not only dirty, but totally ruined and worth nothing.
God was trying to say something pretty powerful to these people… and to us today.
I think He was saying that Israel/Judah was completely ruined, useless to God because of her sin. Just like the sash had been ruined by dirt, so too, God’s people had been ruined and spoiled by their sin. What catches me about the wording of this story are the words: “profitable for nothing”… other translations have: “totally worthless”.
I can’t help but notice that the belt was only tarnished by the dirt when it was removed from it’s rightful place – clinging to Jeremiah.
So, because the sash represents God’s people… and Jeremiah, I believe, represents the Lord. The picture God is going out of His way to paint for us is this: When we are not clinging to God, we become ruined and “profitable for nothing” or “totally worthless”.
Luke 10:38-42 – As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (The Message)
Today, as we seek to honor God by serving Him… let us remember that we are totally worthless unless we are clinging to Him.
Michael, what exactly does that mean?
It means that we are thinking about Him, talking to Him, praising Him, worshiping Him, loving Him, remembering Him, asking Him for strength… a good attitude… a smile… an opportunity.
The Main Course is Jesus. We either cling to Him…or waste away. He is truly the Reason we’re here today, doing what we are doing. He is awesome. He is all that matters.
The Word explains to us that God made us for His pleasure (Phil. 2:13). If that’s true… and it is… if you and I are living only for ourselves, our careers, our money, our own happiness, we’ll be miserable and useless. But if we live to walk with and worship the Lord, by abiding in Him… clinging to Him radically and passionately, then we are truly fulfilling the reason for our existence.
So, along with Pastor Al’s statement:“If Jesus is not the Prize… then you are running the wrong race” I’d like to add another simple question. It’s a question that just might help determine if it really is Jesus that you and I are clinging to today: “If heaven had everything you could ever want… but JESUS was NOT there, would you still want to go?”
Today, may JESUS be all that we cling to.
Much Love! – Michael
This is really where I have been at for a lot of my life, always wanting to be clinging to the Lord and not distracted by other things. Reminds me of a verse about my favorite king of Judah, Hezekiah: “For he CLUNG to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments….” 2 Kings 18:6.
Thank you for the visual example of Jeremiah and the sash. I hadn’t thought of that before. You have given me some good truths to be reminded of today.