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Purt Near, But Not Plumb

While browsing through some old books in my library, I came across one written as part of a series for

preachers titled The Hero in Thy Soul. Written in 1928 by Arthur John Gossip, he declared on the Title Page of

the book that this was “AN ATTEMPT TO FACE LIFE GALLANTLY ... after which he quoted the popular

and vulgarly disrespectful philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, who popularized such statements as “God

is Dead”; “After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands”; and, “The tree

that would grow to heaven must send its roots to hell.” So, is it any wonder that I hesitate to penetrate farther

into the thinking of The Reverend Mr. Gossip? Or Friedrich Nietzsche, as far as that goes?

As I read Gossip’s writings, I came across a scripture he used as it was translated in the Moffatt

translation of the Bible. In Psalm 119:113, the KJV reads: “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” But the

Moffatt translation caught my attention: “I hate men who are half and half.” WOW! What a description. It has

such Book of Revelation connotations to it. I say that because of Jesus’ letter to the church of Laodicea. “And

unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness,

the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were

cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth”

(Revelation 3:14-16). 

We have a few descriptive cliches for a life with this condition: Half in–half out; Almost, but not quite;

Purt near, but not plumb (Pretty near, but not completely). And we speak of the glass as being half full or half

empty, ignoring the fact that whatever your conclusion, the glass is not full!

In Mark 12:34, Jesus said to a scribe who had correctly answered a question about the greatest of the

commandments, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” There are other scriptures that are similarly

descriptive in their substance. Listen: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou

believest”. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”. And Paul said, “I

would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I

am, except these bonds” (Acts 26:27-29). 

There’s more: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”; (Ecclesiastes 9:10). There is

something worthy when one who is faced with an issue of urgency, in faith gives it everything they’ve got. We

remember the Shunammite woman in II Kings 4:24 whose young son had just died. She called her husband and

said, “Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God.”

Then she said to the young servant, “Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.” 

There was nothing half-hearted about her reaction to her son’s crisis. Notice her intent… “that I may run

to the man of God.” Then, she transferred her urgency to the young servant: “Drive, and go forward; slack not

thy riding for me.”

The Shunammite found no half and half commitment from the prophet when Elisha promised her a son;

neither did she expect any less than Elisha’s best in the time of her desperation. The same God who provided once

is the same God who will do it again, even for you! Just know this―with God, there can be no half and half.

My friend, when your hopes and dreams seem to have died, go to God and give it everything you’ve got.

Francis Mason

Pastor Mason

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