Certain things are necessary in life (clothing, food) and Paul made the point to Timothy “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” and “there is great gain in godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6,8). What hinders our contentment? In Matthew 18 Jesus told his disciples, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin. For it is necessary that temptations come …” (verse 7). Why is it necessary? Wouldn’t it be better if believers lived protected lives without anything tempting us? No, it wouldn’t!

When we make things we test them to ensure they are strong enough for the task they were designed. It may be that some will break. That makes it useless and then it is thrown away. Often, even if partly broken, there is a good use for it – and that is the point behind Jesus’ parable that “if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire” (verse 8).

We may have a special aptitude or talent, but if it has no spiritual value then we should push it out of our lives. Let us use make full use of the talents and opportunities we have – and not fret about others, and our failures, and be in danger of being useless to God.

Once again our Psalms reading is valuable. Psalm 33 refers to our time, “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples” (verse 10). And so efforts to achieve peace between nations and peoples go nowhere, as seems to be the case with efforts to stop global warming. Often God is ignored. Does that include you? Note the great truth of verse 12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage”! The words of Jesus illustrate the elements of behaviour that really count – “but it is necessary” that chosen vessels are tested as to their worthiness. Are you passing the test? May we all be among those whom he chooses – may we help each other to pass the test.