Last time, we spoke of those who, while living ungodly lives, seem to be “rewarded” by everything they do. All they do seems to prosper … while here we are, born-again Christians, serving God, doing His will … yet, we just can’t seem to “make ends meet.”
My first response to that thinking is, yet again, worry about your relationship with God, not someone else’s. It’s just not “your time” yet. Will “your time” ever come? Yes … it will. God is using every circumstance in your life (both good and bad) to further your training … to conform you into His image … not your neighbors’ image. Please allow me to be completely honest:
Would you rather receive your reward now … or later?
Is the “underlying” (there’s that phrase again) question really about your faith? Do you really believe that God will help you … that He can help you … Do you really believe that God will “get you out of this?” I know, I know … you do believe that God can … but … do you believe that He will? Do you really believe that God will work this out, and things will be better-especially you will get better?
The rewards of a Christian life far, far, far outweigh the rewards of a non-Christian life. It’s just that we really don’t get our reward until later. Sometimes, much later. Look where we end up … and look where they end up. I’m not being mean or unloving by saying this, but, let’s face the facts: Would you rather receive your “reward” now, on earth … or receive your reward … personally, from Jesus … in Heaven? I know that there are people who must know that they aren’t going to Heaven … so they grab all they can, while they can … That may seem a terrible thing to say, but we know it’s true. I can remember when the standard answer to this question, “Hey! Where ‘ya going?” was, “To Hell if I don’t change my ways …” I know people toss phrases like this around, just like they toss the name of Jesus around, in a joking way, but I think people who talk like that are just giving evidence of what they lack … or just don’t want. Yes, we must pray, pray, pray for these people, just like someone (or a lot of someones) prayed for us when we talked and acted that way …
Here’s what Jesus said:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus would say this about worldly treasure: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Sadly … many of us just are willing to give up “our stuff” in order to “buy that field.”
One of my favorite verses about this fact that our reward will come, howbeit later, is this:
“But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; also found in Mark 10:31).
Funny, when our children want something (birthday, Christmas, etc.), we have no problem at all extolling (praising, glorifying) the virtues of having to wait … to wait until “the time” … with a strong finish of “good things come to those who wait” (another phrase I’ll have to look into) or another saying we so strongly agree with … yet … when we have to wait for God … when we have to wait … it’s quite a different story, isn’t it?
It strikes me now, how so many of us save, invest “for our future,” for our retirement, save all we can, now, to have more later … yet … we don’t understand this concept of “laying up/storing up treasures in Heaven.”
At some point, I must mention that God knows what He is doing, and if He gave us everything we wanted … especially something that someone else already has … it would ruin us … certainly ruin our testimony, and, probably our lives.
I promised I wouldn’t look at the current or recent news headlines to make the point that money can’t buy happiness and fulfillment … regardless of how rich, or famous, you may be … so, I won’t. Why not? Because I need to spend more time looking at me and what I am doing with my money, or stuff, or things, rather than looking at someone else’s. One thing for certain: Money, or fame, can’t buy happiness. Or, love. Or, forgiveness. I do know this: People who have more seem to always want more. And, they seem to live in fear that they’ll lose what they have.
I only need to look at the story we are all familiar with. How the wealthy young man came to Jesus, asking what he needed to do to gain eternal life. He even called Jesus, “Master.” Here’s what Jesus told him, and his resulting answer: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22). This same story is also told in Mark, chapter 20.
I am reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw: “Let go. Let God.”
We’ll close with highlights from this parable, found in Luke 12:16-32:
“The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully … But God said unto him, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on … your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things … But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”