As a young boy growing up in the Midwest, each summer I anticipated one event that always brought a smile to my face. I would eagerly wait to hear dad say, “We are leaving tomorrow for Tennessee to see your Grandma and Grandpa Sampson!” I loved being at their house! They lived on a big hillside that flattened out to more than twenty acres of grassy fields, and it became a wooded wonderland for all the grandkids to enjoy. However, the older we got, we quickly discovered that going to Grandpa’s house was not all fun and games. With such a big farm, there was work to be done. I remember one summer in particular that Grandpa needed to put up a wire fence where the livestock stayed. We worked hard all day long and laughed as stories were told of when my dad and his brother, Stan, were younger. The day, however, would not be filled with all laughter. We were all in for some surprises. Our first surprise came when the wire snapped and wrapped around my finger. I can still remember the whistling sound of the broken wire as it whipped through the summer air. As soon as I heard it snap, a portion of the wire quickly wrapped around my right hand, slicing open the top of my finger. The pain was intense, and I received seven stitches. Then, to make the day worse, as my dad was hammering a pole into the ground, the head of the sledgehammer came off and hit my grandpa on the head! So there we both sat—one with a bandage on his finger and the other with a bandage on his head. I felt like grandpa and I took a greater beating than the wire poles did on that day. Looking back on the incident, it is possible that my grandpa’s pain could have been avoided if we had noticed that dad was losing the edge of his sledgehammer.
II Kings 6:1-7 has a similar story of a young man who had borrowed an ax head to build a school with the prophet Elisha. He must have been poor and could not afford the ax, because the Scripture says, “it was borrowed.” I can imagine that his eyes were fixed on the tool. All the other men had one, and now, he did too. He put all his effort and energy into building the new school. However, his life was about to change because he focused on the task rather than on the tool. The boy did not realize that he was losing his cutting edge. He believed that he had a grip on things and that everything was fine, but it was not! The very thing that helped him perform his duty was slowly slipping away. Then, with one final blow to the tree, his ax head fell off, and it was gone.
As Christians, we must understand that although we think we have a grip on things in life, sometimes, very slowly, we begin to lose our cutting edge. Sadly, it is usually not long afterward we find ourselves in a dilemma. As the young man here in II Kings, we are working hard at focusing on the task but fail in making sure our tools are in good working condition.
In the daily grind of life, it is easy to get caught up in performance and become careless with the gifts that God gives us.
To avoid being careless, here are five spiritual tools that need to be kept in check:
- Productive Prayer Life
- Perpetual Bible Study
- Positive Fellowship with Others
- Performance of Spiritual Gifts
- Praise Offered to God
Like the borrowed ax head, we must remember that all power belongs to God. His power is freely given to us to bring Him glory. Though you may think that you have a firm grip on the things you are doing for the Lord, take the time to be sure you are not—Losing Your Cutting Edge!
Missional Until He Comes,
Dr. David L. Sampson