1 Samuel 12:20-21 NASB, “Do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver, because they are futile.”
How true it is that when we turn away from the Lord, we tend to follow after futile things. When we keep close to the Lord, through prayer and guidance of His Word, He keeps our hearts in the right place and leads us into His truth. When we turn aside to our own ways, we have nothing to deter us from walking after vain things and running into deception.
Romans 1:18-28 tells us that when people turn aside from God and focus all their attention on themselves, worshipping “the creature more than the Creator”, they become “futile in their speculations” and God gives them over to a “reprobate mind” which is a mind that is void of all judgment and understanding.
We gain more understanding of the word “futile” (tohu in the Hebrew) by looking at other passages where it is used. We find that it also means…
Wasteful. (Deuteronomy 32:10) To go a different way than God has planned for us is to waste our lives. I have always thought that the saddest thing anyone can do is to go through life doing their own thing and going their own way. They miss out on the destiny that God has planned for them before the foundation of the world. That’s a wasted life.
Nothingness. Job 6:18 says, “The paths of their way are turned aside: they go to nothing and perish.” There is only nothingness at the end of a life that is spent on itself. Luke 12:8-21 reveals the nothingness at the end for the one “who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.”
A Wilderness experience. (Deuteronomy 32:10 and Job 12:24) To turn aside from God’s ways is always a wilderness experience.
Confusion. (Isaiah 41:29) We live in a society that is deceived and deluded. Because we are engulfed by humanist thinking—in the media, the education system and the mindset of the majority around is, it can seem normal to us. Unless we keep close to the Lord and live in His word, we can also be deceived and confused without knowing it.
Vanity. (Isaiah 40:17; 23; 44:9; 59:4) It is a vain thing to pursue our own way. It has no eternal reward.
Empty. The Jerusalem and CJB translate tohu as empty. Many people try to fill their lives with pleasure, satisfaction and material possessions. They fill their homes with stuff—TVs, beautiful décor and every new thing that is advertised. And yet their homes are empty of people--empty of babies and children, the true riches that we can take into eternity with us.
I think of God’s words about Israel when they walked in their own ways, “Israel is an empty vine, he brings forth fruit unto himself.” (Hosea 10:1) When we focus on ourselves and our own aspirations, we are empty. We have nothing to give to anyone else. We have nothing to take into eternity.
The word empty in this Scripture is baqaq and means “to empty, to depopulate.” Isn’t that interesting? This is what has been happening in the church over the last few decades. As people have turned away from God’s truths to fill their lives with the pleasures of this world, they have depopulated the church. Thousands and thousands of godly children who God intended to come forth to bring God’s light and salvation into the world are not here. Not only have we depopulated the church, but we have depopulated the land. In turning from God’s ways, we have become empty.
Other translations use the words useless (MLB), worthless (NLT) and false (Knox).
May God help us from wasting our lives on our own pursuits.
Love from NANCY CAMPBELL, ABOVE RUBIES
“Oh God, please keep me on your narrow way. I don’t want to waste my life. Amen.”
Not my way, but God’s way.
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