“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21 NKJV).
People in undeveloped countries are frugal from necessity. They never purchase a thing new if they can find a serviceable substitute at less cost, or even better, for free.
Students at Khulna Bible College like to keep filtered water in their rooms for personal use. They can get water free from our filtration system downstairs. But they need containers. Whenever anyone is off campus and forced to purchase bottles of water, they are carefully kept for refilling. It is an understood rule here: you just don’t throw away a good bottle.
Satan also recycles. Just because a person comes to faith in Jesus and obeys the Gospel, having his or her sins removed, does not mean that the Devil will give them up as un-claimable. Paul warned Christians to keep their guard up against his darts (Ephesians 6:16). Peter compares him to “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Sin will reclaim us as it did Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-10) and Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:13,18-23). He is clever, persistent, and powerful. We must always be watchful against his deceptions.
But Satan is also not alone in recycling. God practices it too. He calls it forgiveness. After listing a number of sins that will keep souls from heaven Paul proclaimed, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
What a glorious thought. Just because a person has been used by sin, that does not mean his fruitfulness is ended. God can redeem him. He can create him again as a new creature “in righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). He operates the world’s only perfect recycling center.
People may also recycle their relationships. It is done exactly like God does it, through the practice of forgiveness. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
None of us has failed to hurt or offend someone for whom we care. Sometimes that has meant the end of trust and therefore closeness. Marriages, friendships, parent-child relationships and many others are tragically marred or ended by our blunders.
Rarely is such separation intended or desired, but it happens. And all too often pride, stubbornness, and plain hurt feelings prevent either party from seeking to heal the breach or to make restitution for the wrong done.
The late beloved Marshall Keeble once said something like this, “Marriages often fail because neither party will back up; I wouldn’t buy a car without a back-up gear.” That was his folksy wise way of saying we must learn to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
No one stays married happily, nor does any other relationship last, without an “I’m sorry” and “You are forgiven” being exchanged from time to time.
If water bottles are too precious to throw away after only one use, how much more true is that of souls, and of precious and rare relationships? Let us learn to recycle, as God does.