Wednesday, February 19, 2020

What's Your Warning Label?

Dear Friends,

I bought a new high-tech set of “earbuds.” Those are the little rubberized earphones that just fit into the opening of your ear. The warning in the instructions read as follows: If earphones become stuck in your ears, they must be removed by a qualified medical doctor. I was really concerned when I read that. I have a good doctor but is he qualified to remove earphones? Warning labels make me laugh. Here are a few that I found...

A label on an RCA Television Remote Control said, “Not dishwasher safe.”
A warning label on a toilet plunger said, “Do not use near overhead power lines.”
The warning on a Rowenta Steam Iron said, “Do not iron clothes on body.”
On a Sears Hair Dryer, “Do not use while sleeping.”
On a package of Sainsbury Peanuts, “Warning. Contains nuts.”
A blanket had this warning label: “Not to be used as protection from a tornado.”
On a child’s Superman costume, “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.”
A bottle of Nytol sleeping pills said, “Warning. May cause drowsiness.” 
A box of disposable razors warned, “Do not use this product during an earthquake.”
On a Toilet Bowl cleaning brush, the label said, “Do not use this product orally.”
The warning on Rat Poison said, “has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice.”
I like to watch my intake of sodium, so I appreciated seeing this label on a container of table salt. “Warning. High in Sodium.”
But I think my favorite warning label was this one on a baby stroller. “Caution. Remove infant before folding for storage.”

And I started to think... What if the government required that all humans wear personal warning labels? What would yours be? Would your warning label be one of these?

Danger! Contents Under Pressure. May Explode Without Warning.
Caution! Flammable Negativity. Keep Away From Fire Or Flame.
Danger! Toxic Words. Use Hearing Protection.
Fragile! Handle With Care. Easily Offended and Unforgiveness Can Cause Injury or Death.

Would your government required label warn others of your temper? Toxic mouth? Negativity? Intolerance of others? Unforgiveness? Untrustworthiness?  Something else? What is listed on your warning label is what shrivels your soul and produces stinky fruit. And God has created you to be the bearers of good fruit. 

Jesus said that: “..a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’” Luke 13:6-7 That fig tree was certainly good enough. It was alive and healthy and had branches with leaves that provided shade. It took in oxygen and expelled carbon dioxide. It was strong and attractive. And this fig tree had no bad fruit. No rotten or corrupt fruit hung from its branches. From a distance, that fig tree was certainly good enough. But it wasn’t good enough for God. Because the fig tree was created by God to bear good fruit. And, in the words of Jesus, a fruit tree without good fruit is, “..just using up the ground.” Jesus used the parable of the fig tree to show us that we are to be producing the good fruit of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul described as, “, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

From a distance, you and I are certainly good enough too! We’re strong and healthy. Like the fig tree, we take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. For those of us in our golden years we are all even still somewhat attractive! But are we bearing the full load of good fruit in our lives that God so desires from us or are we “just using up the ground” here on this earth. If our lives are not bearing fruit, could it be because of those little sins that we’re still hanging on to? A much beloved monk once said, “..on the pathway to purity and spiritual growth you can’t afford a reckless attitude toward even the smallest sin.” 

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of our church season of Lent. For those of you who fast, not because it’s a church tradition but because our fasting brings us closer to God, think about what would be written on your warning label and consider making that the first thing you give up for Lent. (If you’re not sure what your warning label should be, ask a loved one. They know!) Then spend some time with God this Lent and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those comfortable “little” sins that are keeping you from bearing a full load of good fruit. And then reread those words from the beloved monk. Amen?

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