Sorting the Good from the Bad

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away” (Matthew 13:47,48).
In Bangladesh the process of sorting is a constant chore. A fisherman casts his net into a pond and then carefully separates the fish, shrimp, or crabs from rocks, vegetation, or inedible animals. A woman sifts by hand through a basket of grain, removing small gravel, husks, undesirable grains, and dirt. Masons preparing to pour cement or make mortar for bricks will first shovel sand onto and through fine screens so that only the best quality grains will be used.
These and other necessary procedures illustrate the reality and nature of “good” and “bad.” It is not always a moral question, but rather one of a practical nature. “Good” equals functional, productive, useful. “Bad” means harmful or useless. In today’s Western culture of moral relativity, it is considered incorrect to talk of evil or sin. That is “old-fashioned moralizing,” judging the behavior of others by one’s own prejudices. We are told that we must be tolerant, willing to allow alternate lifestyles and views. The idea that such behaviors are sinful is considered to be simple bias and bigotry.
In the Bible, right and wrong are always practical in nature. Sin is condemned because it is harmful; it causes death (Romans 6:3). This is not just that God will punish the sinner in a vengeful way. Rather it is an indictment of all sinful behavior. Death is the inevitable result because of the innate harmfulness (“evil”) of all violations of God’s laws and nature. A thing is “good” because it works to the benefit of the doer, and of others. It is “wrong” because it causes hurt and loss.
It is for this reason that we are encouraged to constantly sort and examine to separate good from evil. In doctrine, speech, action, and thought, we are to act like the fisherman going through his net, keeping the tasty fish and throwing away the others.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy ?- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9).

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