The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Noted theologian Oswald Chambers once wrote, “A river reaches places that its source never knows of.” I like that statement–and also the spiritual analogy that it implies. What kind of “river” are you? Are people around you refreshed simply by your example even if no words are spoken? Or are you more like the Dead Sea–lifeless and lacking enthusiasm? Worse yet, are you one whose personality resembles quicksand–dragging folks around you down with your pessimism and negativity? 1
When I select a campsite for my subsistence activities in Alaska, I always place top priority on choosing a location that is close to a water source–but not just any water source. I want good quality, steady-flowing water with a minimum amount of infused contaminants and debris.
Similarly, but on a much larger scale, I am reminded of a statement made by my Native ice-fishing partner years ago when I lived with the Eskimos out on the coastal plains of the Bering Sea. This is vast, featureless, punishing country where 60 mile an hour winds are common. One day I asked John Oldfriend why it was that his people chose to live there. His answer was abrupt and consisted of only two words: “Rich waters.” What he meant by his answer was that, despite all of the negative aspects associated with living in such a formidable environment, the fact that the two rivers in that area ran crystal clear and teemed with life-sustaining fish year-round, out-weighed all of the other contrary considerations combined. These people had learned long-ago that the key to their physical survival was to continually stay at the source of their most basic and vital needs.
Perhaps by now you have figured out where I am heading with this composition. In John 4:14 Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Later on, in John 7:38, Jesus likewise said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
By His words, Jesus promised that all true believers would be perpetually sustained by their faith, allegiance, and trust in Him ALONE--and that they would be consistent fountains of spiritual blessing to others only so long as they stayed at the exclusive Source of their salvation.
What about you? Have you FULLY drawn from the only Well that saves? Have you TAKEN IN Jesus Christ IN HIS ENTIRETY? Or, are you just a “sampler?” How does the evidence of your life stack up? Does His word “richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16)? Do others see in you a strong family likeness to your Savior (1 John 2:6)? The Bible says that these are to be the unmistakable characteristics of God’s children.
Let’s return now to the earlier example that I gave regarding my subsistence camping activities. After I have found my water source, I still have more work to do. I must now rely on some sort of filter to take care of the potential dangers within that water--both seen and unseen. The best filters allow valuable nutrients and minerals to pass through while removing only the harmful contaminants.
In the spiritual realm, we must likewise employ a very discriminating filter when deciding what to let into our minds–and what to keep out. By His grace, God has given us the most comprehensive purifier of all in the form of His timeless truth and wisdom: The Bible. This “filter” must be applied regularly, however. Otherwise, it will be of little use. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, God instructs us to keep His word on our hearts, tongues, and minds all day long in order that obedience and understanding might be perfected by continual immersion in the truth. As another example, consider the noble Bereans who eagerly searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things that they were told passed the test of God’s word (Acts 17:11).
Many people in this world take pride in saying, “I like to keep an open mind.” Well, according to God’s word, this is foolishness. Like an open door, an “open mind” allows anything and everything to pass both in and out. If you live in farm country, would you leave the screen door to your home open on a hot July day? I don’t expect that you would unless you enjoy a gathering of winged, multi-legged visitors hovering around your dinner table in the evening.
A primary goal of discipleship is to allow only that which is good to enter into one’s mind--and then to keep it in while also keeping that which is bad out. Anything that is less than pure and God-honoring becomes poison for the mind. We have to be very discriminating and selective at all times and in all instances--and this is not done without a determined, conscious effort.
In summary, the keys to maintaining spiritual health and vitality are to stay at the Source of our salvation and to safeguard our minds and bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We can only accomplish these things by continually using God’s word to test and filter our thoughts, our attitudes, and our behavior. This practice is to become a daily, life-long habit (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16). We must be ever steadfast and vigilant in our Christian walk--for the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).