Empty Pursuits

By D’Ann Davis

“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” – 1 Samuel 12:21

Surrounded by nations with kings, Israel felt envious and requested a king for themselves. This was grievous to the Lord as He wanted His people to want Him as their king. In His displeasure He had Samuel rebuke the people of Israel and called them to something better. Samuel instructed the Israelites in verses 20-21, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”

Leviticus 20:7 tells us that God is holy, and thus we must be holy. Failure in this separates us from the Father (Romans 3:23). Thankfully though, God sought to reconcile us to Himself through sending His Son Jesus on our behalf, as a propitiation for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 John 4:10). We became the righteousness of God in Him through His sacrifice on the cross per 2 Corinthians 5:21. However, in our disobedience, we also reap the fruits of our sins. We see in this passage that empty things cannot profit us. They do us no good. When we try to find life in our sin and apart from Jesus, we will find ourselves continually empty. He is the only Deliverer. Our empty pursuits do not fill us and make us whole, but instead drive the wedge deeper between the Living Water and our thirsty hearts. Our emptiness and despair will inflame, and our desire to pursue Him will weaken due to the hardening effects of sin.

Instead of foolishly pursuing the things we know will not satisfy us, let us be a people who wisely repent of our folly. Let us heed Samuel’s initial word and not live in fear but instead sharpen our focus to following the Lord. Let’s not swerve to the right or to the left, but let us serve the Lord with all of our hearts. Empty pursuits equal emptiness. Pursuit of the Lord equals life, peace and joy. Let’s choose the right pursuit.

Dear Lord, thank You for affording Your children Christ’s righteousness through His death, burial, and resurrection. Help us to pursue lives in right response to Your sacrifice on our behalf. Help us to see the emptiness of our sin. Help us to feel the weight of it that we might turn to You in our pain. Thank You that You are sufficient to fill all voids we have. Thank You for loving us. Help us to love You in return. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen