In 1921, a man named Earle Dickson who worked for Johnson & Johnson decided to try to come up with a better way to take care of injuries. At the time, the best way to bandage a wound involved cutting pieces of gauze and tape to put over the site of the injury. However, for cuts on fingers that was not very effective because the movement of the fingers kept the tape from sticking and the gauze from staying in place. Dickson eventually invented the first Band-aid.
Band-aids are really useful, and though they can prevent cuts from getting infected, they will never solve a spiritual problem. Kleenexes are a good thing to have around, too, if someone is going to cry. They may wipe up the tears, but they will never solve a spiritual problem either. Many people are looking to Band-aids and Kleenex to fix their problems, (what is on the surface) and they simply are not enough.
Mom and Dad had a mobile home in Florida where they would go for the winter. My mother died of a heart attack when she was sixty-eight, but Dad continued going down there after Mom died. For ten years, I would make the trip with him. I would go up to Kalamazoo, Michigan and help dad close up the house for the winter.
You are a physical being, but you are more than that.
Then we would drive to Florida where I would help him open up the mobile home. In the spring, I would fly to Florida and help him close up the mobile home. We would then drive back to Michigan and open the house there. The house in Michigan was one Dad built himself back in the 1950’s. I grew up there. It wasn’t a big house, but it had an upstairs and a finished basement in addition to the main floor. I noticed as Dad got older, he started using less and less of the house. His legs hurt, so he stopped going upstairs or down into the basement.
We reached the point where Dad could not live by himself anymore, and we had to clean out the house. I walked downstairs to where my bedroom had been. It had been years since I, or dad, had been down there. It was a mess. The paneling was warped, the carpet was decaying, and the amount of dirt and cobwebs was unbelievable. It took us an enormous amount of work to get everything cleaned out because of all the years that it had been neglected.
People try all kinds of things to solve or cover their problems—drinking, drugs, entertainment, eating, shopping. None of these work. They may put a band-aid on the problem, but they do not fix it. The only solution to spiritual problems is a spiritual solution. God does not give us Band-aids; He works to fix the problem. There are many Christians who are saved and on their way to Heaven but their spiritual lives are filled with dirt and cobwebs because of neglect.
Sanctification involves us doing serious work with God. We have to go down the stairs, open the doors and windows of our spirits to air things out, and start the cleanup. Some people have to spend time looking for the key to a place they haven’t entered in a very long time. God is not as interested in stopping the bleeding and the crying as He is in us becoming like His Son. He knows that sometimes we need to hurt before we are willing to clean. God wants to give you eternal help rather than temporal help.
As you read the Bible, you will find that very little of it deals with solving physical problems. It is not that the physical part of our lives is irrelevant to God; He created it as a vital part of us. It is just far less important than the spiritual part. You are a physical being, but you are more than that. Real Christian living takes place in the spiritual dimension. And in that dimension, Band-aids and Kleenex do not help solve problems.
The Spirit of God led Paul to write, [quote]Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1.)[/quote] Life is hard. Ever since sin entered into the world living has been a struggle. It saps our strength and energy. What do we need? Do we need a vacation or a pill or a drink? No—we need the grace and peace of God. We need His strength and serenity to face the challenges of each day.
Many people are seeking temporal solutions to their problems. I have heard it many times in counseling: “Pastor, if I just had a different relationship” or “Pastor, if I just had a different job” or “Pastor if I just could get away.” We just want something to make us feel better, without stopping to consider that God has a purpose and plan in everything we experience. Even better, God has everything that you need. He has grace and peace to overcome every affliction and problem you face.
The problem is that too many times we are looking for His answers and His provision in the wrong place. We are standing at the “body door” and the “soul door” and watching for Him; missing the fact that all the time He is knocking at the “spirit door.” Then we bitterly complain that He did not come to our aid and look for help somewhere else, settling for solutions that do not satisfy. If I could encourage you to do one thing to help with your sanctification, I would suggest that you stop praying for Band-aids and Kleenex and pray for His grace and peace instead.
We want relief from the problem and miss His offer of relief through the problem. We want circumstances to be peaceful but He wants our spirits to be peaceful. We want our bank account to prosper but He wants our soul to prosper. We want life to be easy but He wants life to be good. We want to coast when He wants us to climb. We want things our way and He wants things His way. We want to have the best life; He wants us to have His Son’s life.
After highlighting the priority of the spiritual dimension of man, Paul continues his letter this way: [quote]We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God” (1 Thessalonians 1:24.)[/quote]
When we talk about work, our first thought is usually our occupation. What we do for a living is often how we identify ourselves. But faith, hope, and love are a different kind of work. Properly understood they fall into the spiritual realm rather than the body or soul realm. The concern of God for our faith is that it should grow. He wants our love to increase. He wants our hope to endure. This is not Band-aids and Kleenex; this is a solution. God wants the very best for you, but our natural tendency is to focus on the physical and soul parts, and when we do, we miss out.
When the YMCA was started—the Young Men’s Christian Association—it was a spiritually focused organization. It was meant to address all three dimensions of man, but their primary goal was to see people saved. If you visit a YMCA today you will not find Gospel tracts or soul-winners. It has become an exercise facility focused only on the body. Let me tell you this: if you can bench press 400 pounds and run a mile in five minutes, but your marriage is falling apart and your relationship with God is cold, you are a failure. Worse, you have failed in the most important part of your life.
Instead of spending all your time focused on the lesser things, hit the spiritual weight room. Let God put your faith on the treadmill and strengthen your endurance. Let God put your love on the elliptical machine and deepen it. Let God put your hope on the free weights and give it endurance. When you become a man or woman of great faith, patience, and love you are on your way to being like His Son. These are the things that truly matter; these are the things that will last. [quote]And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13.)[/quote]
Is the spiritual “room” of your life one whose door you haven’t opened in years? Have you de-emphasized the part of you that matters most to God? Are you missing Him knocking because you are not listening at that door? Put your focus back on what matters. Stop praying for Band-aids and Kleenex and start praying for sanctification. When your priorities line up with God’s priorities, it does not mean that all your problems will vanish. Instead it means that you will have His grace and peace and strength to sustain you through the process of becoming like Jesus Christ.