Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus I Am Resting Resting"1 (Lyrics)
My north window looks onto the schoolyard. There I see old box elders, young replacement trees, and a half-grown silver maple with leaves shaped much like the one on our Canadian flag.
But the silver maple's leaves were brown — in mid-summer! I went out to see why. Three or four inches of the bark at the bottom of the tree were riddled. I concluded that the person who was so diligent in trimming grass the right way from around the base of the tree was unaware that he or she was killing the young tree by also destroying its bark.
Basic biology teaches that a tree is nourished by an upward flow of sap from its roots that ascends through a shiny, narrow, wet channel all around the trunk between the outer bark and the inner wood. A tree cannot live if the upward flow of sap is prevented.
I discovered more young trees similarly damaged. I wrote to the authoritative personnel of the school division like this: "I feel sorry for the person who has done this damage, for he or she has obviously been zealous in the job but was not trained in the essential knowledge."
A parallel can be found where the apostle Paul writes to the Romans:
Romans 10:1-4 – Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (NIV)
The person who zealously did erroneous tree-trimming sought righteousness in a disastrous way. He or she did not know that the essential for the trees was to allow them to be nourished in the way that God in His creation planned for them, and to leave them unharmed by mistaken zeal. The Israelite recipients of Paul's letter had zealously and erroneously tried to establish their own righteousness. They needed to know that God had given His Son to establish His righteousness freely for them:
Romans 10:9-10 – If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)
We must trust only in the righteousness of Jesus to secure our eternal position with God.
Prayer: Dear God, who so loved the world as to give the life of Your Son as a sacrifice for the sins of all of us people of Your earth, please send advocates for Your truth to every person of the earth. Please open the awareness of the people of the earth to receive Your truth and to live it, for Your name's sake. Amen.