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Consumer or Consumee

Are misplaced priorities making you a bad report to the world around you? Pastor Mur asks if you are living in the Promised land or if your life is being eaten up by promising to do too much.

Numbers 13:32 contains a thought or sentence that most of us have never noticed. This section of scripture discusses the various reports given by the twelve men that Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land.

The Grapes of Canaan by James Tissot / Wikimedia Commons.

We all know the general story—two of the returnees said “Let’s go,” but ten said “Let’s not, the task is beyond us.” While the debate over the correct decision was still raging, the ten added the comment in Numbers 13:32: “The land we explored devours those living in it.” These words have a theological bent to them. I have never read a commentary on their implications, and thus I am left to wonder if the ten were that clever or knowledgeable to wage such a theological debate with Moses. I do know that the Torah and all of Scripture is layered with meaning and the revelation of that meaning is ongoing for all of us who care to study, ponder, unpack and grapple with what is there. I thought I would take the time to discuss some of the implications that I see with you.

Does the land where you live devour you? This happens to all of us at times, and it is fatal to some. For example, I have taken on too much for the next three months and the one just past. My life has and is being devoured—consumed by so many chores that I do not have enough time for myself and, more importantly, for the One to Whom I owe all. In short, the land where I live has devoured me.

My priorities are all wrong. I have given control of my days over to people and tasks that do not really matter and those that do (and I) will suffer until I catch up or ‘fess up that I cannot do all that I have promised.

Another example (and one that well might have been part of the desert debate 3300 years ago) is that people can soon find themselves so taken up in the effort to produce this year’s State Fair Blue-ribbon turnip that there is no time left for serving the King or being part of the family or community. It is so easy to get absorbed in worthwhile pursuits that really do not matter that much. Could it be that you cannot handle the Promised Land? Maybe it is not the right place for you to live?

How about the church that splits over doctrinal issues? I remember a church that years ago split over whether chromium automobile bumpers were too worldly. Some of the more ‘Godly’ among that flock insisted that every chrome bumper should be painted black to maintain the right witness to the community. Soon there were two congregations and an unimpressed though amused community. Now there are no chrome bumpers and a doctrinal debate over something so long out of fashion seems silly. How could someone be so consumed—devoured—over passing fashion? Could you? Are you?

The mainstream church often looks with scorn at the Spirit-filled Christian who has let the gift received overpower their good taste and sense. This scorn devours at or rejects that which God had intended to be birthed in all His church.

Numbers 13:32 says that this is a bad report—to live in a place where we are devoured. Do you live in such a place? Is your life consumed with things not precious, but worthless? Are you a bad report? I have been a Pentecostal Christian for nearly 40 years and I have to change direction again. Am I too old to have to catch up or to repent and start over? I should know better and yet I have to repent—to be smarter this time. How about you?

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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2001

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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