“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).
The “tag line” for Darkened Glass Reflections is “Living today with an eye on eternity.” When I chose this title for the blog, I wanted to emphasize that message. We live in this world, and we need and want things while we are here. However, the Christian is also preparing for eternity in heaven and cannot afford to forfeit the blessings of eternal life.
When heaven becomes more important to us than earthly life, we see everything from a new perspective. Eternity shows us that some things that seem important, from a purely materialistic viewpoint, are not so important in the long run. If we have only this life, we should “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). However, if we are looking forward to eternal life after this one, a life centered around pleasure and earthly satisfaction is foolish. Since earthly life is a prelude to eternity, a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice makes more sense than one of self-seeking, self-pleasing, and self-satisfaction. If this life is all there is, it makes sense to avoid pain or discomfort. However, in light of eternity, suffering for the sake of Christ makes sense. Instead of enjoying this life, we should focus on investing in eternity.
When we invest money, we set it aside now to obtain a future benefit. I contribute a portion of my income to a retirement fund. I can think of many things I could spend that money on now. However, to pursue financial comfort when I am older, I am sacrificing that. I am seeking future comfort over current pleasure. Jesus gave several parables illustrating a similar approach to money, to show how it can guide how we live our entire lives.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).
The man in this story found a great treasure. He wanted it. To obtain it, he surrendered all of his possessions to purchase the field where he found the treasure. The only way he could receive that treasure was to give up what he had now and obtain the field. Likewise, a disciple of Christ should make sacrifices in this life to obtain everlasting life and all that goes with it.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:32-34).
God is not trying to make it hard for us to receive eternal life. He has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom, Jesus says. However, many of us (perhaps all of us) have a small view of God’s kingdom. We live as if things in this life are somehow better or more valuable. Give it away, He says. Instead of treasuring a leather wallet filled with $20 and $50 bills, along with numerous credit and debit cards, we should seek a money belt in heaven: Eternal rewards that will not diminish due to theft, poor business and financial decisions, or economic instability.
Luke 18:18-27 illustrates an example of this, where Jesus told a rich young ruler to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him. Jesus prefaced this instruction by saying “One thing you still lack” (Luke 18:22). Apparently, love of money was the one thing holding him back from salvation. What is the one thing that holds you back from following Jesus without reservation? Let us think of that “one thing” as the object of your lust:
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
When we hear the word “lust,” we think of sexual desire. However, the Greek word for lust, “epithumea,” has a broader meaning: “covet, strong desire, passionate longing.” It relates to the Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” There are several things listed there that one might lust after or covet. A bigger house, more prosperous business, greater wealth, etc.—any of these things can be an object of lust, as well as a desired sexual partner. Food, alcohol, drugs, sports, entertainment, money: the list never ends. We crave much more than we need. God has offered something greater. He provides the opportunity to escape the corruption that is in the world by lust so that we can enter an eternal incorruptible home, but we choose to hang on to something. He wants to bless us, but we must let go of the imperfect to grasp the perfect.
As the New Year approaches, many will make New Year’s resolutions. As you prepare to do so, ask yourself that question: “What is the one thing that is holding me back from following Jesus wholeheartedly?” Let the answer to that question guide you as you embark upon the future. Count it as rubbish or loss in comparison to the blessings that Christ offers you.
“O God, of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me. I can ask for nothing less that is completely to your honor, and if I do ask anything less, I shall always be in want. Only in you I have all. Amen” (Julian of Norwich).
What is the one thing that is holding you back in your walk with Jesus? How can you adjust your priorities so that you can seek greater satisfaction in Christ? Feel free to share your thoughts in the space below.
Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.