One day Jesus was teaching His disciples, and He said to them a very important statement that we have in our text and need to keep in mind. Jesus is concerned about the soul of the individual. In this statement He is saying that it is more valuable than all the world put together.
Jesus is concerned about our souls. Again and again in Scripture He refers to it. For instance, with the crowd that was listening one day, He said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble and you will find rest for your souls.”
Before Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to do some evangelizing, He said these words, “Don’t be afraid those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus was concerned about the soul.
Jesus’ concern for the soul probably goes back to Genesis chapter 2 where it tells us we were all created with a soul. God formed Adam from a lump of clay, and then breathed into it, and it became a living soul.
When we’re talking about soul, we’re talking about our inner person. It is the hidden spiritual side of an individual, which includes our thoughts and our feelings along with our heart and will. It makes me who I am. Our soul sets us apart from every other living creature and makes us unique. It is eternal and not to be ignored, but instead worthy of great care, according to Jesus.
Back in the 1700s there was a new movement in the Christian faith started by John Wesley called Methodism. He was very big on small groups. Those in small groups would always ask each other the question: How is it with your soul? That’s a very good question to ask, isn’t it? When was the last time someone asked you, “How is it with your soul?” Well, why do you suppose Jesus, His Heavenly Father, and John Wesley all pay such attention to our souls and ask us to be careful with them?
Well, the truth is, our souls are exposed daily to contaminants and toxins in this world that can do it damage. There is a roaring lion that prowls around our world seeking to destroy our souls. He can use the toxins in this world to ruin us in ways we are not even aware of.
Craig Groeschel, in his book, “Soul Detox,” tells of growing up in a household where his parents both smoked two packs a day. He said, “When I was a kid, I never noticed the smell that was on my clothes or in my hair. I just figured that’s the way people lived, until I went off to college and lived in a nonsmoking environment. When I came back home that first Christmas break, I couldn’t believe the smell in my home. The walls that I thought were white were actually kind of yellowy. And the air was filled with a haze from all the smoke. When I got back to college after break, my roommate didn’t even want to let me into the room. That was a real eye-opener for me. I was living in that smoke, not even realizing how it was impacting me.
“Then later on, they began to do studies on what damage second-hand smoke can do to my lungs. Here I had been breathing in all these toxins that could be doing damage to my health.
“Likewise, we live unaware of the forces around us that can stunt our spiritual growth and impact our faith, such things as toxic relationships, media that we watch and listen to, and behaviors in our culture that have become the norm. It’s easy to get desensitized to what’s wrong and displeasing to our holy God.”
Have you ever thought to ask yourself a question as you watch a television show or a movie, I wonder if Jesus would enjoy this? Have you ever stopped to consider that what we’re laughing at in a comedy, for instance, is actually breaking the heart of God as He worries about our souls? Perhaps you’ve heard the old analogy about the frog in a boiling kettle. If you were to put a frog in a pan of water and turn on the stove, he would not even notice the water as it became hotter, eventually boiling the life right out of him.
Every now and then we hear about a Christian celebrity who has a moral failing with finances or in their sexual life. Behind those stories, however, is a story of pollution gradually taking over in a person’s inner life. That person becomes so full of himself and is unable to see the difference between what’s good and what’s harmful, what’s pleasing and what’s not pleasing to God. Everything we allow into our hearts and our minds has an impact on how we grow or don’t grow spiritually. Our souls can be in danger of absorbing more and more lethal poison if we don’t monitor what’s coming in and adjust our intake. It’s like the old computer adage: Garbage in Ð Garbage out.
The most important danger of all is that this garbage can ruin our relationship with God and drive us away from the source of life, our heavenly Father. We could become like the prodigal son who decided he didn’t want to live with his father any longer.
This garbage can also ruin our testimony as people of God. King Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, talks about the person who falls and gives way to the wicked. He describes him as a polluted fountain or a muddied stream, and then what good is he to anybody? He has ruined his testimony to Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if your saltiness gets lost, what good is it?” It’s good for nothing except to be thrown on a path and trampled into the ground.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a muddied stream or a ruined fountain. I love Jesus and I want to make a difference for Him. If you ask Him into your heart, rivers of living water will flow out of it. I want to be a fresh water person who refreshes and is useful to God and others around me. I want to be the salt of the earth, helping to keep the world from deteriorating, bringing it life, and keeping it alive.
For the next few weeks, we’re going to do a little soul care Ð soul detox. We’ll talk about how to care for our souls. Just like some people go to the health spa to get a body detox now and then, so our souls need detoxification. God, through His holy Word, will restore us and renew us. Consider it a spiritual intervention of sorts, something to challenge us out of complacency into a new and pure-focused kind of living. You can consider it a jump start to renew your soul and energize your growth in your relationship with God. If you are tired of going two steps forward and sliding three steps back, this can help.
How is it with your soul these days? Are you growing closer to God? Are you making a difference, shining like a light and being salt to those around you? It’s time to come clean Ð if you are tired of the stain of sinful habits discoloring your life and you long to breathe fresh air of the Spirit again, to live in the holiness of God, if you would love to detoxify your soul of the guilt, fear, and regrets that get in the way of your relationship with God, I encourage you to get some soul care. Join me in doing an honest inventory and looking at the pollutants that can corrupt our spiritual lives. It’s time for us to open our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to the cleansing power of God’s truth. Our tool for this is going to be God’s holy Word, sharper than any two-edged sword Ð like a surgical instrument, piercing, dividing the soul from the spirit, joint from marrow, judging thoughts and intentions of the heart. If you desire to detoxify your soul and renew your faith, I ask you to do one thing for me today: participate in a special prayer asking for God’s help, because God is the only one who can fix our souls.
This prayer was written by King David who really messed up his life. He had an adulterous affair with a married woman who became pregnant. Then, to protect his own reputation, he had her husband killed in the front line of battle. David thought it was all taken care of, until one day a spokesperson for God said to him, “David, God knows exactly what you’ve been up to. And He is so disappointed. After all He’s done for you, now you break His Word like this. How could you?” David came clean, and he wrote this prayer, which I invite you to pray with me:
Create in me a pure heart and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer from your heart, now think about the image of the cross. God desires to clean us up. He loves us so much that He gave His Son to die so our sin-sick souls could be healed and cleansed. God specializes in cleansing hearts and souls and breathing fresh air into toxic lives. He will answer our prayer to create in us a clean heart as we take His holy Word for the next few weeks to look at how we might take care of our souls.