STALE OR FRESH Andy Hollifield 1-5-17
Wednesday night as I sat in church listening to prayer requests, a comment was made by a good friend that got me to thinking. He said something to the effect that his prayer was that he wouldn’t become stale as a Christian. I couldn’t hear very well what was said but it was enough to click in my mind. Such a simple prayer request but yet loaded with so much wisdom to the benefit of those of us that are in the generation behind him. If we will only glean this wisdom and apply it to our lives, it will help us in our Christian walk. I spoke to him after service but I didn’t mention the thoughts I had about what he had said. As a matter of fact, I just did what I often do and that is just roll it around in my mind and study on it before I do anything else. I mean study as to ponder and give it much thought. Only then can I pray and ask God what it is he wants me to see out of a thought, and also begin to look up scripture and definitions and facts. One thing I noticed about the word stale is that although it has numerous definitions and synonyms, it only has one antonym or opposite. The opposite of “stale” is “fresh”. If you think about it in the most common usage of a loaf of bread, there is no in between. Bread is either “stale” or “fresh”. Bread that is kind of stale means it is not at all “fresh”. If it is fresh, that means it is not stale at all.
As I began to look at the various definitions of stale I noticed that none of them are good or desirable. Flat; as in a beverage, dry or hardened as in bread, musty or stagnant as in the air. Having lost interest, freshness, vigor, initiative, or the like from overstrain or boredom. The last one is probably the most descriptive of a lot of God’s children, “Having lost effectiveness through absence of action.” Ouch! That one kind of hurt. Most of us don’t lose our freshness due to overstrain. Quite often we lose it through boredom because of our absence of action. The ruin of Sodom according to Ezekiel 16:49 was “pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness…” Also mentioned as one of the reasons for the downfall of Sodom was the lack of compassion. It said “..Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy”. “Idle” is used 11 times in the bible and never as a favorable circumstance. “Idleness” is used only 3 times. According to 1 Timothy 5:13 idleness is a “learned” behavior. That means if we aren’t careful our kids will learn it from us. It also speaks to the fact that if you are idle, it won’t be long until you are wandering from house to house being a busybody and tattler, speaking things that you ought not. Proverbs 19:15 says that the “idle soul shall suffer hunger”. When you become stale in your Christian walk, it isn’t long until you are just totally useless in battle. It would sure be good for us and those around us if we just kept ourselves fresh in our spiritual walk. The prophet Jeremiah said in the book of Lamentations chapter 3, that he remembered his affliction and how hard it was and that kept him humble. He went on to say that when he remembered all that the Lord had brought him through, he came to the conclusion that (v22) “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, Because his compassions fail not. (v23) They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” He went further and said that when he recalls all of this to mind, “therefore will I hope in him.”
I am still talking about being stale or fresh. With all in mind that God has done for us, how can we not be fresh and at his beck and call? It’s simple: we get bored from absence of activity and finally a lack of compassion. What’s the remedy? Do something! Get active for the Lord. Just as physical exercise breeds energy, spiritual activity breeds compassion and contentment. If I sit around idle, I get lazy, fat, out of shape, unable to do what I used to, and when I do begin to do something it is a lot harder than it used to be. It is the exact same way in our spiritual lives. If we don’t use it we lose it. The word “new” occurs 150 times in the bible. Paul even tells us in Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” “Fresh” is only used 4 times but it carries great meaning. God “daily loadeth us with benefits” according to Psalms 68:19. His mercies, compassions, and benefits are always fresh and new every morning, not leftover or stale but full of flavor and greatly to be desired. Why should we not present ourselves to him fresh and renewed each day; not stale, dry, hardened, and without vigor and vitality. We should daily have a renewed desire to please him. Just as he gave the Israelites fresh manna six days a week, he will give us fresh bread from heaven each day. We should take it with gratitude and be fresh and fit for his service every day. The world has been left stale by a devil that cares nothing for their soul, their life, and especially not for their relationship with God. We need to show them something in our life that will make them desire what we have. Nobody likes stale bread. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!