The Wrong Kind of Fire
“Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire…” – Leviticus 10:1 (New Living Bible)
Uber-meticulousness can be downright irritating.
In grade school I had a teacher who was so concerned with neatness and accuracy that she wouldn’t allow the boys to enter her classroom without a shirt and tie and without having our shirts neatly tucked into our pants. And on more than a few occasions, she would glance at my written work and tell me to do it over because the margins weren’t quite right.
Years later she explained that her insistence on being neat and accurate had to do with her desire to prepare us to become proficient professionals who would be accurate in all that we did.
Sometimes, in our ‘come as you are,’ laissez-faire attitudes, we lose sight of the importance of precision. We even blur the distinctions between mediocrity and excellence.
Consider the calamities we’ve created by failing to exercise the discernment required to tell the difference between glitter and gold; between popularity and demagoguery; between cost and value; between faith and feeling; between that which is different and that which is deficient.
When I read in Leviticus that God’s judgment had come against the sons of Aaron all because they burned the wrong kind of fire at God’s altar, I remembered my teacher accepting nothing less than professional appearance and assignments that were completed with precision.
But excellence and the discernment of values in our lives can only be accomplished by those who pay attention to details.
Lord, help me not to miss the mark because of my shabby aim. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.