For reasons unknown to me, my e-mail service is now collecting huge amounts of spurious messages—also known as “spam”—and placing them into a euphemistically labeled “Bulk Mail Folder”. (Other servers are more direct, calling this stuff what it is: Junk Mail.)
It occurred to me that there may be some spiritual themes that ride along with the spam. Some examples may help you understand what I’m taking away from scanning only the spam-bulk subject lines.
One category of e-rubbish promises to enhance my well-being. This collection of questionable products or services claims to cure herpes, increase my libido, find fine wines at low prices, eliminate tinnitus, lower my blood pressure and delay aging. My favorite: Sure-fire ways to defeat toe fungus! As I skim the subject lines, I realize how easily I could worry constantly about my physical health. How I could make youthful vigor or sexual prowess the major goals of my life. How I could fashion my body into a temple of self-idolatry—the source for many other sins.
Another set of messages introduces presumably good folks who want to help with my finances—quickly, assuredly and without much effort. Investments that can’t fail, stock market schemes, tax relief, personally tailored loans. Rock-solid guarantees. These false promises remind me of Paul’s warnings about love of money, as well as Jesus’ stories about the perils that confront rich people—the folly of placing my trust in what doesn’t last. Nothing in that variety of messages seems helpful to a life of stewardship.
The tease-lines of these messages offer new friends, all of them cute or friendly. Another false promise, another appeal to what’s sad about those who might be lonely or unnoticed by others. These deceitful promises about satisfying relationships are also laden with danger, as the writer of Proverbs so aptly describes the matter. (See Proverbs 1-5.) Here I think about the truly wonderful fact that I am part of the body of Christ, a vast array of believers who hold each other in prayer and in fellowship.
What’s common about most of this scamming/spamming? In every case, I am invited to think of myself as god-like, worthy of these wonderful life-enhancers, subject to no one, legitimate in satisfying my whims, staying at the center of attention and getting what I certainly must deserve. The purveyors of this nonsense are particularly interested in old folks like me. They may also think I am stupid—that I will believe their lies. They want me to think that old age cannot touch me, that I can be made new with little or no effort. And they want to hurt me—no doubt about that.
As I empty out the spam filter several times a day, I am vexed that these e-miscreants found me. Instead of only fuming, though, I look at these offers as warnings and reminders: I am mortal, tempted and vulnerable. I am also glad that, blessed by Scriptural wisdom and surrounded by other faithful saints, I can find satisfaction—fullness of years—without the help of spammers and scammers.
The good news: I have trustworthy, God-centered sources for my well-being.
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