Normally, I would throw it away. I'm good at throwing things away -- if something no longer serves its purpose, that's it. My husband is not. There are so many times that I will want to throw something away, but my husband will stop me, assuring me there may be a use for it someday. Much like this pen. In my husband's mind, this pen may work again one day; it just needs a new ink cartridge. Never mind that he will probably not bother to get a new ink cartridge. The point is that it still has potential to serve a purpose.
As I look at the pen, I cannot help but wonder about ourselves as Christians. And think about Jesus and the fig tree. When the fig tree failed to serve its purpose, it was no longer useful, and Jesus cursed it and it died. (Matt. 21:18-19)
What about us? Each time we fail to do what God commands us to do, we are not fulfilling our purpose. As I am examining my own life, I see so many times, both past and present, that I have failed to obey God. Why should God use me when I don't satisfy my purpose? And what use am I to God if I am not fulfilling my purpose? (Matt. 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.")
The fig tree had one purpose: to bear fruit. When Jesus gave it a chance to prove its worth, it failed. We also have one purpose: to serve God. But unlike the fig tree, God gives us SO MANY chances to prove ourselves. We often fail, but He continues to show mercy. I don't know about you, but I am tired of failing to do my purpose. I don't want Jesus to find that I have lost my saltiness and throw me out. Do you?
There's also another way to look at this verse. How many times do we cling to something as though it was salt, when it is no longer good for us? Relationships that have deteriorated into nothing more than a drain on our energy and time? Habits that are unproductive or even harmful? Things that were once a help but are now a hindrance? And while it may have begun with a pen, this simple reflection has inspired me to examine myself to see whether there are things or people that serve no good purpose and are drawing me away from God. I pray that we all have the courage to examine our lives honestly and the boldness to take the actions that we must. And I pray that we show mercy, just as God shows mercy towards us, when people -- and pens -- fail us.