Are we raking the muck of the world while rejecting the more heavenly things?
by John Bunyan
This done, and after those things had been somewhat digested by Christiana and her company, the Interpreter takes them apart again, and has them first into a room where was a man that could look no way but downwards, with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood also one over his head with a celestial crown in his hand, and proffered him that crown for his muck-rake; but the man did neither look up nor regard, but raked to himself the straws, the small sticks, and dust of the floor.
Then said Christiana, I persuade myself that I know somewhat the meaning of this; for this is a figure of a man of this world: is it not, good sir?
INTERPRETER: Thou hast said right, said he; and his muck-rake doth show his carnal mind. And whereas thou seest him rather give heed to rake up straws and sticks, and the dust of the floor, than to do what He says that calls to him from above with the celestial crown in his hand; it is to show, that heaven is but as a fable to some, and that things here are counted the only things substantial. Now, whereas it was also showed thee that the man could look no way but downwards, it is to let thee know that earthly things, when they are with power upon men’s minds, quite carry their hearts away from God.
CHRISTIANA: Then said Christiana, O deliver me from this muck-rake. Prov. 30:8.
Paul prayed that his friends, “may be able to discern what is BEST.” Philippians 1:9-10. We must be always making choices in this world. We cannot take up everything that lies in our path–and we ought to choose the best things. Even among ‘right things’ there is room for choice, for some right things are better than others.
There are a great many Christians, however, who do not habitually choose the best things–but second-rate things. They labor for the food that perishes–when they might labor for the food that endures unto everlasting life. Even in their prayers, they ask for temporal blessings, when they might ask for spiritual gifts and treasures! They are like John Bunyan’s “man with the muck-rake”, who only looks ‘down’ and drags his rake among the weeds and worthless rubbish–while over his head are crowns that he might take into his hands!
They are like Esau, who sold his valuable birthright, for some bread and lentil stew. They toil for this world’s things–when they might have been laying up treasures in heaven!
We only have one life to live–and we ought therefore to do the best we possibly can with it. We pass through this world only once–and we ought to gather up and take with us the things that will truly enrich us–things we can keep forever!
It is not worth our while, to toil and moil and strive and struggle–to do things that will leave no lasting results when life is done–while there are things we can do which have eternal significance!
I’ve raked many a barn stall in my life and this picture is very clear to me.
Why would we want to continue to rake in the muck of the world when better and lasting things are offered?