Additives for the Soul

For years I had an unfortunate and unconventional attitude towards lawn mowers. I’d buy the cheapest one available and use it till it quit working. I never did any maintenance except for adding oil–I never changed the oil–and occasionally replacing the spark plug. Not only that, I never drained the gas tank at the end of the mowing season.

Why bother? It seemed like a nuisance.

Because I kept the mower in a shed, it would normally last four or five years being (mis)treated that way. I rationalized that the replacement cost was about equal to the total of yearly tuneups by someone who knew (and cared) more about it than I did.

Last year I started having real problems with the mower. It was acting even more sluggish than usual, and I had trouble keeping it running. No telling how often I had to restart it just to get the grass cut. As the end of grass cutting season approached, the mower had grown nearly impossible to start. Time for a new mower–just to get me through the last couple of mowings before cold weather.

The new mower was different from the old ones, though. It came with a sample of gas additive and some important information about why I should treat the gas with it. It seems that the ethanol in regular gas turns gas to water over a period of time–like from one year to the next. I had been using a can of the previous year’s gas.

Out of curiosity, I asked a mechanic friend’s opinion. Based on what I told him, he verified that the water in the old mower had probably done a serious number on the carburetor. Replacing it would have cost $75-85. In ignorance and laziness, I’d outsmarted myself.

So I used the additive to finish last year’s mowing season, drained the gas just in case, and disposed of what was left in the can. I bought fresh gas this year and put the additive in it. Not only is the mower working great, it sounds and acts like new, which it almost still is!

God didn’t design the human body to last forever, although proper care of the body is apt to add many additional years of life. But at the end, the body will die.

The soul is something else, though. It’s eternal. Even so, it requires proper maintenance. It can get too easily overgrown with sin and concerns about this world. Not the way God intended for our souls to be.

God has a special additive for the soul. If we read His Word, talk with Him in prayer on a regular basis, and worship with other Christians, God’s Holy Spirit can keep our souls functioning properly. We rely more fully on God rather than on ourselves and are less less inclined to give in to temptation.

Taking advantage of the gasoline additive is my decision based on past experience. So is allowing the Holy Spirit to keep my soul sound.

Is your soul in good working order or have you allowed it to grow unusable? You can’t replace your soul, but you can allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in your life and renew your soul and make it as good as new.


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Best regards,

8 thoughts on “Additives for the Soul

  1. Nice tie-in. You could be a fine columnist. But of course, you are with this blog.

    As far as maintainance is concerned I am like you with mechanical things. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy new than keep fixing up something of little value.

    As for the soul, well, I feel there is a blurry, unclear idea of what it actually is making the rounds. I have no idea how to qualify it but I too feel there is something nebulous inhabiting our skin that animates us and causes us to do the foolish things we do. Or perhaps it is just a manifestation of our fear of death that impells us to assume a cloudy shimmer will be released from our bones when we die. I hope it happens. Life is too much fun to just die and disappear into a spray of disorganized atoms.

    As for maintanance of such a cloud, well, if our personality represents our soul then doing good things and being nice not only makes us happy but others too. Life would not be worth living if I coudn’t find happiness in it.


  2. Tom, thanks about being a fine columnist, but I have enough trouble thinking of topics to post twice a week. *LOL*

    I have to admit I’d be hard pressed to define or explain the concept of “soul.” I believe it’s the eternal part of each of us. Perhaps the part that makes us alive. That makes sense to me, anyhow, in terms of living on after our earthly deaths in either Heaven or Hell. But since I don’t believe animals have souls–they weren’t created in the likeness of God–that explanation falls short.

    I had to smile at your statement about life being “too much fun to just die and disappear into a spray of disorganized atoms.” I agree that the soul is something that “animates us,” but I’m not sure I’d agree that the soul makes us “do the foolish things we do.”

    I do believe, however, that our actions are a reflection of the condition of our soul. A right relationship with God through faith in Jesus gives us the desire to live righteously, although we all fail at times. People without that relationship are apt to live according to their own definition of right and wrong–and do some of them evermore make life hard for the rest of us!

    I purposely put off commenting on your comment because I wanted to digest your thoughts more completely before saying anything. But now I’ve responded, and I look forward to your next installment in this discussion.


  3. I have to say the reason for stating that the soul ‘makes us do the foolish things we do’ was not because I feel we are manipulated puppet-like by a thing in us known as a soul. Rather, I was making a comment on the human condition and our seeming faultless capacity to do things we later regret.

    As for the colorful statement about us fizzuring off into a spray of disorganized neutrinos, well, it makes no sense that life, intelligent life, comes to an end. I refuse to contemplate nonexistence.

    As for our actions being a reflection of the condition of our soul I heartily agree. Our education, including spiritual training, is what we use to guide our choices in life. I will have to part from your opinion that a relationship with God helps us live righteously. I feel there are people who are born wonderful souls and others, from the minute they appear on this earth, are ghouls. Genes have a lot to do with it. I think that if we are judged, we are judged relative to our innate ability to act in a righteous way. Otherwise, God is unrighteous.

    As for the billions of people denied the opportunity to know the God of the bible, I see this as a fault on the part of Christians who talk but do not act. I hold it as an impossibiliy to dissemminate the word of God in all creation, not because it can’t be done but because there is no real desire to do it.

    These are conundrums that burn me like boiling water on my skin. I cannot sleep some nights because of the ideas that inhabit my mind. Not that I’m crazy, but I am unusual. I love the world of men. I love goodness. I love to see people who act in a right way. It inspires me despite my lack of religousness.

    And I must say I enjoy these conversations. Thank you for this blog.


    • As you always do, Tom, you are keeping me thinking, which is definitely a good thing.

      I also cannot conceive of nonexistence. Then again, I can’t conceive of eternity, either.

      I agree that a number of non-Christians and nonreligious people are basically very good people. But no human being is totally good, not even the best of Christians. Who among us has never had an improper thought or spoken an unkind word?

      Jesus as both God and man was perfect, however. Perfect as in sinless. Otherwise, His sacrifice for our sakes wouldn’t have been acceptable to God the Father.

      There are two ways to live: God’s way and our own way. Sin is doing something our way as opposed to God’s way. We are all sinners. Because of God’s righteousness, none of us is acceptable to Him. We all deserve His condemnation.

      But God didn’t choose to leave us without hope. If we accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross on our behalf, God counts us as sinless, little though we deserve it.

      Accepting Jesus as our Savior (and repenting of our sin) is the only requirement for eternal life in Heaven, but accepting Him as the Lord and Master of our lives is necessary to live and grow as Christians and enjoy the kind of fulfilled life that God wants everyone to have.

      Being made acceptable to God that way doesn’t make any of us perfect. Christians still sin, and some of them do it in very unfortunate and attention-getting ways. But if we’re trying to follow Jesus’ example, at least we aren’t wallowing in sin. Many sins take a long time to overcome. Others take a long time for us to recognize as sin.

      I used to know a Christian lady who was both overweight and a smoker. But she somewhat wisely stated that God could only work with her on overcoming one of those things at a time. Interesting thought, huh?

      I must admit I think a lot about the eternal fate of nonbelievers who’ve never even heard of Jesus, and there are billions of them. I totally agree that Christians have dropped the ball and become lax about following Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. Especially American Christians, who are all too comfortable just sitting there in the pew.

      I spent almost nineteen years at the International Mission Board, an agency that maintains thousands of missionaries throughout the world, some of them in places that are quite dangerous. But far too many people in the pew feel more comfortable with giving to support missions (not saying that’s not a good thing) than in going.

      I don’t know how God will deal with those people who’ve never heard the Good News and had the opportunity to accept or reject it. As a righteous God, He cannot accept sin. But he’s also a merciful God, One who wants everyone to have the chance to hear and believe. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

      To say the least, God’s ability to be true to Himself is beyond my ability to comprehend. If I could understand the ways of God, He would be too small for me to worship and commit my life to.

      With that I’ll stop for now. Looking forward to your response.


  4. Splendid points as always. I have to admit that there are some unknowable things in this universe.

    One of the points that sticks in my neck like a row of fish bones is this point you make: ”Accepting Jesus as our Savior (and repenting of our sin) is the only requirement for eternal life in Heaven, but accepting Him as the Lord and Master of our lives is necessary to live and grow as Christians and enjoy the kind of fulfilled life that God wants everyone to have.”

    I don’t know about you but I feel that the idea of just accepting Jesus in our saviour and repenting of our past sins is a bit flimsy. I am not one to advocate kneeling on dried corn kernels to prove devotion to god like some wierdo religious people. However, I feel if someone is dedicated to an idea or cause or religious ideal it should saturate his mind. Every action should be proof of a commitment to his belief. Not just an occasional visit to a tabernacle or church. Not just a mouthing of the body politik. If you read Jesus’ life story carefully (as well as that of the apostle Paul) you will see someone who at every moment looked for a way to throw light on his ministry. Not in the way folks think of ministry today: a man standing in a pulpit admonishing his parishoners. No, but rather, on the road, relaxing, eating, going to a party, in every situation he found himself he used these circumstances to preach the word. He did not have a fixed place or day to do his ministry. It was his passion, the fiber of his existence, the primary and abundantly obvious devotion of his soul. The cupboard is very spare when you look for these types of individuals today. Or through all of history.

    I read Paul say that faith is not the possesion of all people. I think he was talking about some Christians. It is a matter of faith. Not just a one-time, I-love-you-Jesus-now-can-I-go-to-heaven type affair. One should accept Jesus and then showing it in his daily life. Of this I see very little.

    Maybe this point is a raw nerve for me because I get sick seeing people say they are saved and are going to heaven but lead dreadfully unholy lives – apart from not having a fundamental understanding of Gods’ principles. I see a man of God as someone forthright, intelligent, educated in the scriptures, zealous, a slave to his love for Christ. For me, all the rest is just talk. I respect integrity, not the occasional I-love-Jesus slogan people tend to repeat.

    This, of course, in no way represents how I feel about all people. Just Christians. And it is a topic far broader than these measley paragraphs can encompass. Forgive me if I have made any untoward remarks. As always, I am you friend.


  5. And you remain my friend, Tom. I basically agree with everything you’ve said.

    Jesus said something like “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord’ to me will enter the KIngdom of Heaven.'” I suspect there will be a number of shocked supposed-Christians who find the gate barred to them as they enter eternity.

    Yes, there are “real ones” and there are totally “fake ones.” But there are also those who believe intellectually but don’t have the heart knowledge–the relationship that causes true Christians to put Jesus at the center of their lives and try to live according to His example. And, yes, try to share the Good News with other people.

    Luke 8:4-15 tells Jesus’ “Parable of the Sower,” but which is more accurately called “Parable of the Soils.” It describes four ways people respond to the Gospel.

    People who simply repent and accept Jesus and fail to grow in their faith and in their desire to live more righteous, godlier lives make me wonder. In general, Baptists believe in “once saved, always saved”–that no one who truly becomes a follower of Jesus will ever fall away completely.

    But I think about that a lot.

    At one point–maybe in the 1970s–Bob Dylan became a Christian. He released three or four albums of strongly Christian music and disappointed a number of fans when he did those songs rather than his “standards” in his concerts. I’m pretty sure he’s gone back to the secular side, but was he really a Christian? Is he still one?

    Didn’t Eric Clapton also become a Christian a long time ago? I recall the song “Presence of the Lord,” but don’t remember any other religious songs? What’s his Christian status?

    And we won’t even talk about Miley Cyrus and similar people who grew up in Christian homes and have really gone off the deep end.

    One thing I’m very thankful for is that I’m not God and it’s not up to me to determine who’s real and who’s not. But God loves us all–equally. You as much as me, Hitler as much as Billy Graham. So it’s my job to love everyone, too. Not to approve of sinful and inappropriate words and actions, but to care about their spiritual needs–and, in many cases, their other needs as well.

    Hmm. I’m all “talked out.” Have a great day, Tom. I know some Christians say, “Have a blessed day,” but I prefer, “May you BE a blessing to others today.”.


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