The purpose of Christian salvation is that the adopted child of God grow up into conformity with Christ (Rom 8:29). The will of God for the Christian’s life is sanctification (1 Thess 4:3). This is the work of the Spirit (1 Pet 1:2), employing the Bible, the Word of God (Jn 17:17). The result is vital union and communion with God, from this time forth and forever (1 Jn 4:13).
The cares of this world are legion. The natural man is fully taken up with the accumulation and management of material things. His business, each day, is to handle the affairs the world puts upon him. He adds to his own burden, by his ambition to be something more than he is in the world.
When a man hears the Gospel call, it is a peculiar message to him. This is because it is alien wisdom to the philosophies of this world. “Deny yourself” is profoundly antithetical to the self-centered soul. “Give your possessions to the poor, and come follow Me,” is even more specific.
Then, someone comes along and actually lives this prescribed life of faith, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” Then, some rich fool suddenly dies, and the weight of eternity presses the issue. Our time here is but a vapor. The obvious is also true, “You came into the world with nothing, and you will leave the world with nothing.”
Men are born, only to die. It is appointed once for a man to die, and then come the judgment (Heb 9:27). We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11), the just Judge (Gen 18:25; 2 Tim 4:1), in order to give an account of our lives. Are you ready for that?
There are some who hate the souls of men, enticing people to live their best life now. Their encouragement is to gain as much of the material world as possible. Men judge their apparent success with God, receiving His blessing, by how materially prosperous they have become. This is a gross misjudgment. Many professing Christians do as these charlatans teach.
The spiritual man understands the puerilities of materialism. “Boys with their toys,” are mere children in the spiritual war zone they occupy. Oblivious to the deep things of God, their love of the world, as a sin to be avoided, is obvious. Rather than being embarrassed by the infantile baubles that mesmerize him, the materialist parades them in vain pride.
It never crosses the mind of the rich young ruler that the call of Jesus Christ is to something exponentially greater than money and things. Is God attempting to deceive, those He calls to carry their own Cross? The devil, of course, assures us that God is holding back something good from us, by telling us not to love the things of the world (1 Jn 2:15–17).
There are very few who test this command to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, fully believing that material needs will be added unto him (Mt 6:33). This is where faith is tested and seen.
The mind set on the flesh, that is, to seek to satisfy carnal desires, is death (Rom 8:6). Things become idols, replacing God, as one’s pure devotion (1 Cor 10). Spiritual exercises are given less time and attention, in favor of whatever else captivates the heart and mind. Then, time runs out.
The number of our days is known to God, but few redeem the time, to acquaint themselves with the One who ordained each day, before there was yet even one of them (Ps 139:16). What does it profit a man to have used his time and apportioned resources for his own gain and pleasure, leaving them behind to someone else’s hurt, only to have a bankrupt eternity in the prison of pleasure-less hell?
Christian, your simple, even impoverished life in this world is evidence of God’s grace, granting you something better than the world’s silver and gold. Precious, beyond all measure, are the glorious riches of Christ. These cannot be measured, nor can they be lost or stolen. You even have an inheritance waiting for you in heaven that will not fade away (1 Pet 1:4).
You have stored up treasure in heaven (Mt 6:20), with each generosity afforded to the household of faith. Your heart is revealed by the placement of treasure, not in bigger barns, here, but by your investment in eternal habitations (Lk 16:9).
God has withheld nothing good from His children, but our error is our misplaced values. We waste our lives, with each worrisome project to have more of this world. Remember the simple joy of receiving an unexpected gift, as a child? Then, remember when the lust of your eyes coveted another child’s toy? Only when Christ interrupts our endless dissatisfaction, with our stored stuff in the world, does heaven appear to us.
Is it time for you to put away the childish things? Your exit from this life is nearer than when you first believed. Death is looming and eternity is very long. Are you sure that God’s directives to the things above, are not for your eternal benefit, even now?
Abundant life in Christ is spiritual life (Jn 10:10; 1 Cor 2:15), as defined and demonstrated on the pages of the Bible. The prophets and apostles, especially show us that they discovered something of far greater value. They gladly gave up their stuff in the world, stuff that threatened to hinder their growth in grace and the knowledge of God in Christ (2 Pet 3:18). What about you?
The truth of spiritual riches will set you free from bondage to more money and more possessions. Be content with what you have. Give generously to the poor, and invest the mammon of unrighteousness in kingdom work (Lk 16:9). The joy of the Lord will be your strength and reward, and that is only one priceless treasure that God has promised.
Finally, realize that by losing your material life in this world, you are gaining more life from the world to come. Wise men have learned and lived this before you. Follow their example, as they followed Christ’s example. You will not be disappointed (Ps 22:5; Rom 5:5; 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet 2:6), as you finally grow up, having put away your childish things.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 24, 2022