Our message from Sunday spoke of the joyful life. Acts chapter 13 concludes with the statement that, “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” This is an amazing statement, so how do we attain that joy?
Well, Chet proposed that each one of us has a responsibility to complete God’s purpose for our lives. There is a daily vitality for each believer as we embrace our responsibilities and keep ourselves rooted in the Word of God.
But my mind wandered over to his introduction. You may remember that Chapter 12 ends with the death of Herod Agrippa I. The Bible says that because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died.
Modern medical experts have suggested that Herod died of a kidney disease complicated by maggots (ugly worms) that infested the gangrene around his “private parts.” A graphic description of a small worm having a huge impact.
A similar thing happened to Antiochus the Great. His death was noticed in the Jewish historical book of II Maccabees. That account says he died of an invisible, incurable plague. He had “pains in his bowels, some torments of the inner parts. His flesh fell away and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army.” All of that because of some little worms.
The ancient world truly struggled with the effects of literal worms on the human body, but it occurred to me that our modern world is affected by worms of another sort. Spiritually, when we shirk our responsibilities as believers, ignore God’s Word, and fail to minister to others, little “worms” attack us and deprive us of a vibrant, joy-filled life.
So, what kind of “worms” impact our spiritual lives? Well, there is that small matter of self-centeredness that drives our pursuit of comfort. We get so occupied with the pleasant currents of our lives, we tend to ignore the needs of everyone around us.
There’s the preoccupation with money and the pursuit of it. Like a squirming little irritant, the love of money starts small, but soon consumes our thinking. Eventually, everything is set aside except the hot pursuit of possessions.
And there are the nasty worms of competition and comparison. They are slimy things that disrupt our values and leave us in a swirl of endless one-upmanship. In our culture, it is these subtle little worms that often leave despair in their wake.
Physically, worms take over when things are unclean. Spiritually, it the same idea. You and I have to be diligent about our walk with the Lord. Ugly things need to be addressed right away. Sin needs to be labeled and quickly forsaken. Poor attitudes need to be dropped rapidly. We need to clean up our heart on a regular basis.
As we pursue a joyful life, the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5:26) will make such a difference.