Do Not Litter
by Tom Stewart
October 30, 2000
You probably need to be a Baby Boomer ---New Window to remember the national emphasis that Americans used to place on keeping
America clean of litter. That was back in the economic boom days of the Cold War ---New
Window, when we had the luxury to be more concerned about
beautifying America, planting oleander bushes alongside the freeways, etc., rather
than preventing teen pregnancy, stopping teen suicide, saying no to drugs, or teaching
young children awareness to keep from being abducted. An old television commercial--
a public service announcement-- showed a traditional American Indian getting out
of a canoe, but only to be confronted with litter, trash, and rubbish pitched at
his feet. A tear trickles from his eye as we view the contrast between his traditional
respect for the land and the callous disregard of modern humanity for something as
simple as properly disposing of litter. Today, litter means kitty litter for house
trained cats, not the trash blowing down the street. "How
are the mighty fallen!" (2Samuel 1:19).
What is the significance of littering? Why has the subject of litter become a non-issue by the 21st century? The dictionary still defines litter as "carelessly discarded refuse". In the beginning, man has always been taught of God that our consideration for one another should be equal and only secondary to our consideration for God. "36 Master, which is the great Commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the First and Great Commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40). An equal love or consideration for our fellow man would mean that we would not treat our neighbour differently than we would desire to be treated in return. "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31). If we do not want trash, refuse, and litter piled at our feet, then we should not pile it at someone else's feet. This equal consideration for the good of one another is the concept of the General Welfare; and, it is more than a phrase from the preamble to the United States Constitution.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
What happened to the General Welfare? Apparently, whatever sense
that we had of such a concept, has evaporated into Society's demand that everyone
owes us something. And actually, everyone does owe everyone else-- and to God, most
of all-- a perpetual debt that never can be fully discharged. That is the debt of
love, which we all have so miserably failed in its discharge and application. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not
one" (Romans 3:10). Simply renewing
our intentions to return to doing the right thing is to humanistically neglect the
fact that God marks it down that we have sinned against Him and need His forgiveness.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the
gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our LORD"
(6:23). Why would God be so small as to hold such a
thing against us? God the Creator knows better than we that rebellion from His Moral
Law of Love, even in the smallest thing, i.e., littering, translates into the revolution
that Lucifer fomented in Heaven that caused a third of the angels to be cast out.
"And his [the devil's]
tail drew the third part of the stars [the angels] of Heaven, and did cast
them to the Earth: and the dragon [Satan] stood before the woman [Israel] which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her Child [Jesus] as soon as It was born" (Revelation 12:4).
And, even after "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32) for trampling His Law of Love, what is to prevent us from returning to our old, rebellious ways? Even at this late stage of human history, God has covenanted to His people the gift of His Holy Spirit, which the LORD Jesus Christ gave to man as:
In light of all this, littering, as much of a non-issue as it is
today, represents the carelessness of the human heart and disdain for the Eternal
Law of supreme love for God and an equal love for our neighbour; and, it can be cured
by the right application of the Love of God. First, the Love of God must be applied
to our hearts by our individual reception of His Son. "For
God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life" (John
3:16). Then, we, by the grace of God, must apply the Love of God to
our relationship to God and man. To God, we will obey. "For
this is the Love of God, that we keep His Commandments: and His Commandments are
not grievous [literally, burdensome]" (1John 5:3). And, to our neighbour, we will treat
with the same consideration as we would want for ourself. "20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth
his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God Whom he hath not seen? 21
And this Commandment have we from Him, That
he who loveth God love his brother also" (4:20-21).
Will obeying the Law of Love clean up all the litter? No, but it will prevent the litter that would have come from you. When Jesus soon returns, He will clean up the trash. "And out of His mouth goeth a sharp Sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a Rod of Iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15). And, ere long, Jesus will make all things new. "For, behold, I create New Heavens and a New Earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isaiah 65:17).
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