Is It Nothing To You?
In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah expresses a series of laments. First and foremost of these laments are those over God’s chosen people, Israel. Because they sinned grievously, God punished them severely. Jeremiah asks this question in Lamentations 1.12: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”
The reaction of the people during Jeremiah’s day should have been as Jeremiah’s: grief and mourning. Sin had been committed for a long period of time by those who professed with pride their status as God’s chosen. Yet the very God who had chosen them had now punished them. Jeremiah said, “The Lord has caused her grief because of the multitude of her wrongdoings” (Lamentations 1.5). Society’s reaction was to hiss and taunt, as if it was nothing to them. Jeremiah said, “The adversaries saw her, they laughed at her ruin” (Lamentations 1.7). We see in their reaction the same attitude that Cain held toward his brother, Abel, when he asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4.9).
In this, we see that what was true in Jeremiah’s day was true in Adam’s day. It is still true today. Things that ought to be important are nothing to society as people pass through this life. Many are unconcerned about the prevalence of religious division. Rather than mourn the perversion of the one true gospel (Galatians 1.6-9), many rejoice the availability of the “church of your choice.” When things of eternal consequence are “nothing,” it is cause for mourning.
Our religious neighbors speak with ridicule of the church that Christ built (Matthew 16.18). They speak with a derogatory tone of those who advocate unity apart from diversity (John 17.20-21). These things mean nothing to many people.
What about you, dear reader? Do you regard yourself as a Christian? Are religious divisions and perversions of the gospel of no concern to you? It should be. Jeremiah mourned over the sins of God’s people. He mounted over the fact that no one cared. Jeremiah recognized what many fail to acknowledge: This was God’s doing. He said that God had afflicted him (Lamentations 1.12)> God’s justice had been exercised because of sin. This was to bring about repentance from sin. For those who did repent, God would be merciful and heal.
Have you been afflicted by God? How have you reacted: With bitterness or with sorrow? An unconcerned attitude toward these matters has eternal consequences. Christians are to be “fervent in spirit” (Romans 12.11), “zealous of good works” (Titus 2.14), “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15.58), and are to “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16.13). Yet, there are those who are unconcerned with regard to their responsibilities toward God and toward one another. Why is it that there is a lack of concern among the people of God with regard to these two responsibilities? First, let us consider the responsibilities as brethren.
The apostle Paul identified some of the brethren as “strong” and others as “weak” (Romans 15.1). Judgments must be made by brethren toward one another. Paul also distinguished between those in and those outside of Christ as those “within” and those “without” (1 Corinthians 5.12-13). In either case, judgments must be made by all based upon righteousness (John 7.24). Jude also recognized the differences in spiritual maturity of brethren in his epistle. He wrote, “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 1.22-23). Righteous judgment requires wisdom. In our consideration of one another, let us remember this: “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10.24). We have all been made in the image of God (Genesis 1.27). The value of a soul thus created is of greater value than the world in which we live and all that is therein (Mark 8.36-37).
So likewise, we need to remember these principles in the relationships we sustain with brethren and with those of the world. All souls are of equal value in God’s sight. Let not this truth mean nothing to us. The salvation of a soul is greater than gaining the whole world. The gospel must go forth in word and in deed by Christians. Our support of the gospel should not be taken lightly either. Does our contribution reflect that the gospel is of no value or of great value to the saving of a soul? The Bible declares that it alone is God’s power to save (Romans 1.16-17). Does the purity and integrity of the gospel matter to you?