I never throw away a plastic bag, for instance, after only one use. I wash it and hang it out in the kitchen to dry. After several uses it will eventually develop a hole or two, sometimes pinprick holes, but even that makes it no longer airtight. When that happens it becomes a produce bag. Why buy special green bags with vents in them? I just add another hole or two with a couple of knife stabs and “re-purpose” the bag.
So I had a hard time throwing out those grape hulls. I certainly didn’t want to eat them—I had already tried that, but maybe the birds would, or a coon, or a possum—they eat just about anything. So we laid them out on an old stump to see what would happen.
Nothing happened. Nothing wanted them. We saw no signs that anything had even nosed around in them or pecked even once. Somehow every animal and bird could tell just with a look that nothing good remained in those hulls. They were simply useless.
How about us? Sometimes we think that because we sit on a pew we are serving God. Maybe all we are doing is lying on a stump. Like birds that fly past those leached out grape hulls, maybe our neighbors take a quick gander and decide there is absolutely nothing there worthwhile. If they don’t know who and what we are by the words we say and the deeds of kindness we do, how useful are we to the Master? If they don’t see that we handle life better than they, that trials do not deplete our faith and joy and hope, why should they care about what we do on Sunday mornings?
In fact, they will get some use out of those empty hulls of a life we lead—they will be able to tell at a glance what they do not want to be, and they will do their best to stay away from it, just as the coons and possums probably went out of their way to go around that stump in the wee hours of the morning. Those grape hulls will act as a perfect thermostat for judging our personal brand of Christianity. As such, they aren’t just useless, they are actively damaging to the spread of the gospel, and the growth of the Lord’s body.
Empty hulls are not grapes, nor empty lives disciples of the Lord.
Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice…To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice, Matt 9:13; Prov 21:3.