Monday, December 15, 2014

Meditations On an Obscure Verse

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

You don't recognize that Christmas carol? That doesn't surprise me. This is the third verse of "Joy to the World." Unless you've sung the song from a hymnal every Christmas for three or more decades, you may not be familiar with this verse.

We sang this song last Sunday in church, and when we got to this verse, for some reason, I didn't gloss over it as I have in other years. I actually tried to figure out what the heck this is talking about.

No more let sins and sorrows grow . . .

First of all, I had to figure out who the songwriter was talking to here. Is he asking God to do this? Or telling us, the listener to do it? Seeing how two lines later, he speaks of God in the third person ("he"), I'm assuming he's not speaking to God in the second person here; I'm assuming he's speaking to us. YOU stop letting sin and sorrows grow.

Where do sins and sorrows grow? He could be talking about them growing in the world around us -- about dealing with the effects of the fall in our world. But as I wrote earlier, I think we are much too focused on sin in others; we need to focus more on the sin in ourselves. That's where sins and sorrows grow: in our own hearts.

And the songwriter is telling us that we can stop those sins and sorrows from growing. It is within our power. (At least it is now that Christ has come to liberate us from our bondage to those sins and sorrows.)

Nor thorns infest the ground? That seems to be a reference to the curse after the fall (the curse also mentioned in the last line of this verse). "Cursed is the ground because of you . . . it will produce thorns and thistles because of you . . ."  Because you've chosen to reject the authority of God, because you chose to become your own god, God's blessing no longer falls on the work of your hands. Your labors will increase and often be fruitless.

And again -- if I'm correct that the songwriter is speaking to us here -- he is saying that we can stop this now. Thorns don't have to infest our ground. Our strivings in life don't have to be meaningless and fruitless anymore.

Why? How?

He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Wherever the curse is found, wherever its effects are seen -- which is over the whole earth -- the blessings of God can now flow. That blessing that we removed from us after the fall is now back. And why is it back?

Because he -- JESUS -- came to make that happen.

He came to fix what we screwed up at the fall. From the minute he was conceived as a little zygote in Mary's womb, his entire purpose for being in human form was the fixing of that screw-up.

I think the reason this verse jumped out at me this year was because I am quite conscious of the fact that I am allowing certain sins and sorrows to grow in my heart. I know they're wrong. I've weeded them out in the past. But right now, for whatever inexcusable reason, I'm permitting them to be there. And the image of them as a plant is important. Because it reminds me that the weeds of sin and sorrow in my life that I don't pull up are not innocuous. They "take root". They multiply and spread. Like the weeds in my garden and yard, if you don't pull them when they are tiny, those roots grow deep and wide, and their removal now requires major disruption of the lovely ground around them.

But they can be pulled. They are not sovereign in the garden of my heart. All because Jesus came. And His blessings now flow.

And heaven and nature sing!!!!

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