The Mistakes of Mrs. Job

Job 2:6, 9-10
6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

The account of Job and his suffering is something that is familiar to most believers. The Lord allowed Job to go through great suffering as a testament to the glory and faithfulness of the Lord. And this kind of experience is something we can sometimes struggle to understand, especially when we suffer in our land.

Two things get my attention as I look at what happened in Job 2. First, as people often point out, God is in control. When the devil challenged the Lord, God prescribed his boundaries. Satan had no ability to go one inch further than the Lord allowed. In verse 6, God said the devil was not allowed to take Job’s life.

In verses 9 and 10, we see the conversation between Job and his wife. Often when I have read it, I have thought of Mrs. Job as another form of persecution for the Old Testament saint. Today, however, I hear the words of Job’s wife as something pretty familiar. She faces hardship in the life of someone she loves, and she despairs. Mrs. Job loses her way, stops trusting God in her circumstances, and fails. And her failure is not something we only see in her.

Today, there are many in our world who would curse God for the hardships we face. Many would suggest that, if God does not manage the world in a way they understand and approve, they should be free to curse God and do things their own way. We see this in those who demand the right to sin in order to exact the justice they desire. We see this in those who say they will never follow God if he allows tragedies like natural disasters and school shootings. We see this in those who refuse to worship God in his commanded ways if his limitations do not allow for women in the pulpit or a redefinition of marriage.

In point of fact, Mrs. Job’s counsel to curse God and die is not foreign to us. Yes, it’s pitiful, but it is not strange. And her failure is born out of two problems in thought. First, Job’s wife has forgotten that this universe exists first and foremost for the glory of the Almighty. As she watches her husband suffer so greatly, as she faces the loss of so many and so much that was dear to her, she fails to set in her heart that God is the highest purpose and most valuable being there is.

Second, Job’s wife has taken her eyes off of eternity. She has forgotten that whatever we go through in the here and now is brief, infinitesimally brief, when compared to the forever that people will spend in the presence of the Lord. Yes, Job suffered. Yes, his wife suffered. But that suffering will only last a moment.

As we look at a world with terrible hardships all around us, may we not make the mistakes of Mrs. Job. May we remember that God is in control. May we remember that God’s glory is the highest good. And May we remember that we are not living in this broken life forever. There is an eternity ahead of us where we will glorify and be comforted by the God who made us if we find ourselves under his grace through Jesus. .

More than a Seating Chart, a Heavenly Truth

I have heard it said that an idol of the heart is a thing that you will sin to get or that you will sin if you do not get it. I think that’s true. I also think that such idols are easy to overlook, easy to justify, easy to accept as a normal part of everyone’s life. Certainly, there are things that our society tells us are simply understood things that you must have or you will sin.

I want to point us to one idol of the heart and the solution Jesus hints at in a parable from Luke 14.

Luke 14:7-11 – 7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The parable here is a very simple one, at least in its surface application. Jesus warns that people at a dinner party should not push and shove for the best seat. It would be very embarrassing to work your way to near the head of the table only to have your host ask you to move for a guest who is more important than you. Instead, Jesus points out to us that we are wiser to take the lowliest seat so that, should our host want to honor us, the host can ask us to move to a better place.

Often when I think of this parable, what I just wrote is about as far as it goes. It is as if Jesus has just given us a nice slice of etiquette to help us navigate a social setting so as to avoid an embarrassing faux pas. But I think there is much more to be found here. It has to do with being a Christian and avoiding a dangerous idol.

The reason I think that this is more than social advice is in the word “everyone.” In verse 11 Jesus says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I do not think that this can be said to be true in every dinner party setting. After all, I think we have all sat in a room, watched a person promote himself shamelessly, and seen that everybody in the room just lets it happen. Often times we would prefer to suffer through a person’s boorish behavior for a couple of hours than to go through the social awkwardness of rebuke.

Instead of being mere social counsel, I believe that the Savior is here asking us to think strongly about the rewards we seek. Self-promotion in this life will lead to ultimate, eternal humbling. Exalt yourself in the here and now, and you will be humbled forever. Godly humility is something the Lord will eternally reward. Of course, this is not about behaviors that will somehow earn a person the grace of God. This is about a reshaping of personal priorities so as to live for the Lord and not for the world.

So, Christian, make some application. Where do you press for the better seat at the banquet? Let me ask it a better way. What reward do you seek in this life? What type of temporal reward for your behavior and achievement do you long to have and bemoan when you do not get? What social or political wrong will not only disappoint you but drive you to sinful distraction? What will you press forward to make sure you have, especially when it comes to recognition? Or, if you will not press to get it, where will you sulk, pout, and drive yourself toward depression if you do not have others see you in a certain way?

I think if we will ask these questions, we are starting to get at what Jesus was doing in this teaching. The parable, after all, is always deeper than the simple story. Jesus is telling us that, if we find our reward in this life, if we press forward to have the lost world around us prop us up, we are heading for a humbling eternity. We cannot, we must not, live for the smiles of the world around us. Whether that be recognition for all the work we do in the church or recognition in the workplace for all we sacrifice, if our desired reward is the applause of men, we are in deep trouble.

But Jesus says that the humble will be exalted. Again, this is not true at every dinner party. But it is true eternally. All who forsake this world and turn to the Lord will find life. All who come to Jesus are to have eyes that are set on things above, not on the things of this world. No, we do not pretend life does not matter. But if we are to get the call of God right, we must see that the rewards that matter are those of heaven. The smiles that matter are the smiles of god. The seat we want is at the table at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Friends, this can apply in so many ways. Our world tells us to demand what we feel we must have. You must have that vacation. You must have that bonus. You must have that “thank you.” And all of those things can be very good things. It is not wrong to ask about things if you feel you are being overlooked. But if you are willing to sin to get the things you believe you deserve, they are idols. If you drop into despair, if you will sin if they do not come to you, they are idols. And if you chase after the idols of the heart, you are like a person elbowing his way to the high seat at the table. You will be humbled when you find out that was not your place to begin with.

There is a better way. Set your eyes on eternity. Look for eternal reward. Be willing to sit at a lower seat at the table now, because the eternal reward is the one that matters.

Hope in Eternal Perspective

Christians, sometimes watching the world around us is frustrating. WE see wrong things happening. Often, we see so many wrong things that we feel powerless to make them stop. While we know God is sovereign and most certainly will ultimately accomplish his will, it is hard to have confidence that we will see good done in our day.

In Psalm 39, we see a man’s frustration as he sees the wickedness of others around him.

Psalm 39:1-3

1 I said, “I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
3 My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:

the frustration of the psalmist as he observes the wicked is clear. There are people around him, nasty folks, and he is not able to speak out against them and make a difference. It is painful. It is frustrating. It is quite similar to many of our own experiences in our world.

What then will the psalmist pray? This is important. If the psalmist faces frustrations like we face, we should look to see how he prays that God will help him deal with his situation. Take a look at the prayer.

Psalm 39:4-5

4 “O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

Is that what you expected? You might have expected him to go off on the wicked. You might have expected him to demand that God do justice right now. But the psalmist has a different prayer entirely. He prays that God give him a proper wisdom as to the brevity of human life.

This is a call to wisdom. When we see our world looking too big to handle, when we see the wicked looking too strong to vanquish, it is good for us to grasp that our lives last for but a moment with eternity to follow. WE live for a century if we are strong and healthy. But what is that span in the course of history? A century is a drop in a bucket when compared to something like a millennium. And what is a century in the light of ten thousand years? What is a century in light of a million years? What is a century in light of eternity?

Our God lives. Our God reigns. Our God is eternal. Our God has a kingdom that he will build, that he has won and will win, a kingdom that lasts forever. God’s kingdom will have no end. So the wickedness we see in the here and now, it is significant for sure. But it is a moment. It is a passing breeze. It is a blink of an eye.

AS I said, what we experience matters. A society rebelling against the order of creation and which murders its young is truly a significant evil. But it will not last. Throughout history, we have seen empires that looked unbeatable. They have all crumbled to only be remembered in dusty history books. The great centers of power in many an ancient dynasty are now parts of sight-seeing tours that people go on from cruise ships before they return to hit the buffet, the pool, and the evening’s karaoke contest.

The psalmist prays that, in the face of a hard world, God will remind him of how brief life really is. The psalmist is asking God to help him have a greater, eternal, beyond-this-lifetime perspective. And we would be wise to learn the same thing.

Christians, never use a look toward eternity to keep you from seeking to see justice and kindness done in the here and now. Battle evil in your society. But do not let the evil discourage you. All the greatest powers in our world which oppose the Lord will fall. Our Lord will reign forever. Let this give you hope as you serve the Lord.

The Most Logical Question

Blaise Pascal is known for positing a simple, logical formula for thinking about the existence of God. It is known as Pascal’s wager. Simply put, the philosopher and mathematician suggests that, if you believe in God, there is a positive outcome if God is while there is no loss if God is not. Yet, if you deny God, there is no gain if you are correct, but there is a tremendous loss if you are wrong. Thus, belief in God can render a positive while disbelief can only render a negative.

While Pascal’s wager will not bring anyone to genuine faith, it does offer a uniquely logical and pragmatic look at the issue of theism vs. atheism. And Pascal is not the only person in history who has used something simple and logical to try to help people be persuaded to surrender to the Lord.

Even in his ministry, the Lord Jesus offers some gloriously logical reasoning for us to consider as we look at what we value and where we stand before God. Consider this logical pair of questions from the Savior.

Matthew 16:26 – For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Jesus gets right to the heart of our rebellion. What is it worth for us to gain at the cost of our souls? What is worth so much in a temporal existence that one would prefer it over eternity?

The question from Jesus is simple, but powerful. Think about your own life. What might you gain for a short period of time that is worth eternal suffering? What might you gain that is worth giving up eternal joy? The logical answer is that there is nothing that you could gain in the here and now that is worth giving up your soul.

We could illustrate this many ways. Were I to tell you that you have a choice between the following two options, which is better? You can have one dollar today, or one billion dollars tomorrow. Which would you take? You can go the single day without a dollar to gain the fortune.

The problem with sinful humanity is that we so often function on the side of the foolish. An unfaithful spouse will sacrifice his or her family for what amounts to a few minutes of physical pleasure. A foolish employee loses his or her career for the sake of a small financial gain in pilfering from the company.

And, of course, the lost person gives up his or her eternal soul for the pleasures of a few years, perhaps a lifetime. But, consider, even a hundred years of pleasure are not worth a thousand of torment. A lifetime of rebellion is not worth the personal loss of eternity apart from God. And, looking from another angle, a lifetime of the greatest hardship that could come upon a person, if followed by an eternity of joy, is no real sacrifice.

Remember the logical question from the Savior as you consider your faith and your decisions. What temporary pleasure and success in this life is worth giving up your forever? What hardship in the here and now is so great that you would rather be freed from it today than have an eternity of joy?

The promise of the Savior is that, if we repent and believe, we will be saved. Our salvation may prevent us from doing things, often painful and self-destructive things, that the world enjoys. And, yes, following the Savior can bring us persecution in this world. But the reward is worth it. In this life, we gain the Spirit of Almighty God. Many gain the joy of Christian fellowship. WE gain the joy of doing that which honors the Lord, finding our purpose in his glory. And we gain an eternity of infinite reward in the presence of our Creator. No earthly gain is worth giving up our eternity.

A Reminder of Eternity before a Short-Term Mission Trip

In Matthew 10, Jesus is preparing his disciples to go out on their first mission trip. The 12 will head to the towns of Israel to proclaim the kingdom of God just as Christ had been doing from chapters 5-9. And as Jesus gives his disciples their instructions, he has some things to say to them that are vital for our lives.

As Jesus sent his disciples out, it is unlikely that he was expecting they would face major persecution. At that time, people were primarily fascinated by Jesus and his ministry, and his followers were not yet being arrested, flogged, or executed. But, as Jesus taught his disciples here, he also taught them for the further future, when such would be the result of Christian witness.

As Jesus warned the disciples that men would hate them on his account, Jesus also told the disciples where to properly place their fear.

Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Jesus warns that the disciples ought not allow themselves to fear the one who can kill the body alone. All sorts of people can do that. Soldiers can do that. Angry townspeople can do that. Wild animals can do that. But this is not where our proper fear lies.

Jesus tells the disciples that they should fear the one who has the power over their eternal souls. Of course, this is Jesus telling the disciples to fear God and not man. The fear of man can cause us to hide from telling the truth. The fear of man can keep us from going and proclaiming God’s kingdom as he has commanded. The fear of man eats at our souls and leads us deeply into sin.

Jesus wants his disciples to fear God. I do not think that Jesus is telling the disciples to have a terror of God, to fear that he will be cruel to them. God is always just and good. But the disciples are to have a proper respect for God. They are to grasp that God is holy where they are not. And that understanding should lead the disciples to tremble before God with awe and respect. And, for sure, the disciples should fear to oppose God.

Jesus is calling his disciples, as they launch out on their first mission trip, that they must be thinking in terms of God instead of man, of eternity instead of the temporary. These men are to remember that the work they do is not about their popularity or their physical safety. The work they do is not about their present-day success. The work they do is for the honor of the God who created them. And the work they do is about forever.

Christians, we need this reminder. WE live in a world that seems so solid, so stable, so unchanging. But if we stop to think for just a moment, we know that all that we see in our lives—the computers, the phones, the cars, the buildings—will pass away. No political movement has been eternal. No nation’s borders have stayed the same forever. No army is undefeatable. No human being lives beyond our allotted life span. We live in a very fragile world. WE live in a world that is passing away. To live for the present alone is to live as a fool. To live with a mind set on eternity is wise and honoring to the Lord.

Christian, think eternally. Live for forever. Fear God instead of man. Live to honor God more than you live to have comfort and safety. This life is passing. God is eternal and his holy judgment is eternal.

God Outlasts Creation

The world can be awfully depressing. Political discussions are discouraging. The character of the nation seems to be diving off a cliff. Rotten people try to do others harm. Even those who should be gracious to one another are nasty on social media. So much seems wrong.

What are things we should consider when all seems out-of-place? In Psalm 102, the psalmist was feeling the sorrow of a world gone wrong. He had suffered. He was mourning over his losses. He knew that his city had been hurt by enemies. And he desperately wanted the Lord to act.

After several verses expressing his concern and sorrow, the psalmist closes with the following words of confidence in the Lord.

Psalm 102:25-28

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.

God created. This is where the psalmist begins to find his hope. In a broken world that looks uglier and uglier, the psalmist takes his mind and heart back to the fact that God made the universe. God made the heavens. God made the earth. God is. While the universe came into being, God always is.

The psalmist also understood that God will be beyond the universe we can see. God may change the universe like we change clothing, but his eternal perfection will not change. Nothing changes the Lord. He might roll up the heavens like a scroll, but this will in no way impact him. Stars can die. Planets can crumble. Or galaxies can, at God’s will, wink out of existence. None of these things have the power to change the Lord.

Even when the Lord changes the entire universe around us, we can know that God is unchanging. And this fact leads the psalmist to confidence. The changelessness of God leads the psalmist to say, “The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” Because God does not change, those who are under the grace of God may know that the Lord will keep us. If we are his children, if we have been adopted by him, we can know that he will establish us and not let us go. Even if the earth were to shatter around us, God would not lose us.

OF course this does not mean that we know that our lives will be painless. God is sovereign over all things, and sometimes he leads his children through the valley of the shadow of death. But God wants his children to remember that he is eternal, he is unchanging, and he will never let his people go.

So, Christian, think about the universe. Think about how stable it seems. You cannot imagine it going anywhere. You cannot imagine the earth not being. You cannot imagine the sun ceasing to rise or shine. You cannot imagine galaxies beyond your vision fading away. All seems too big, too steady, too unchanging. But God wants you to know that he is before these things, he is beyond these things, and he will keep you in his eternal life even when he changes the stars like a man changes his clothes. Let this lead you to worship the Lord. Let it remind you to be confident that, regardless of how easy or hard your life on this earth goes, there is something infinite beyond it. And let this all give you hope when the world seems too hard to handle.

Hope or Vanity

Is it worth it to follow God? That was the question that I asked in a message on Malachi 3:13-4:3. You see, at the end of Malachi 3, we saw that there were some people who were claiming that following God was vain, useless, worthless. Why? They were upset that it looked like good people were not being rewarded by God and bad people were not being judged by God. And these folks believed that, if God was not making their lives better, God was not worth following.

The answer in Malachi from God was one of eternal perspective. God said that a day was to come when he would make it clear who had been his follower and who had not. In 4:1-3, God talked about the day of the Lord, a day of coming judgment and reward. God promised he will do justice. God promised he will reward those who have honored and feared him.

But what about the New Testament? Are we to think like Malachi? Or are we who are in the New Covenant to expect that things are different today? Should we assume that, regardless of what happens after we die, we get our best lives now?

In my reading through 1 Corinthians, I was reminded that Paul preached a nearly identical message to Malachi. Take a look.

1 Corinthians 15:19 – If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

When Paul faced those who were denying the concept of the resurrection, both that of Jesus and the future resurrection of all believers, he said this is a big deal. In fact, Paul points out that hope in this life alone would be vanity for the Christian. It is meaningless to live for this life and not for the one to come. No matter how good we may or may not get things now, hope in this life alone would make us of all people most to be pitied.

Malachi acknowledged that life is hard in the here and now. But he said that following God was worth it for the hope of eternity. Is that Paul’s message too?

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Paul says that we can know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. How? If you look back over the chapter, you will see that Paul pointed to the day of Christ’s return. Paul pointed to Jesus raising the dead, giving all believers new, eternal, resurrection bodies, and completing the arrival of his kingdom. Paul pointed to what will come in eternity future, and he said that it is because of that hope that we can know, in a hard here and now, that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Following God is worth it. Sometimes it is a real joy in the here and now. Sometimes it is really hard with joy deep down holding us together. But in the light of eternity, in the light of the judgment, in the light of Christ’s return, we can know that it is truly worth it to follow and obey Jesus, to honor and fear the Lord. That message did not change from Old Testament to New. So, let us set our minds and hearts on the eternity to come which proves to us that laboring in the Lord today is worth it.

Moses and Eternal Mindset

Mindset matters. When life is hard, when circumstances are frightening, mindset matters. And God’s word regularly reminds us of where to place our thoughts so as to be able to survive in a broken world.

Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90 is the only Psalm I know of that is attributed to Moses. In it, that great man of God talks about the brevity of human life and its hardships. Of course, who in the Old Testament would know of this more. Moses saw so very much death in his days. An entire generation, millions of people, died in the wilderness over the 40 years of wandering. And it had to get to Moses as it would get to any caring person trying to survive this world.

In his prayer, Moses recognizes that there is wisdom in asking the Lord to help us to number our days rightly. That is, Moses is asking that he and those around him would understand the shortness of human life in comparison to the eternity that stretches before us all. Whether a person lives a hundred days or a hundred years, his or her life is but a blip on the radar when we consider a million years and beyond.

In Colossians 3, Paul reminded Christians to set our minds on things above. It is the same principle. We live in a hard world. We do all that we can to see God glorified in this life. We try to care for our family, our church, our friends. We do what we can to make ends meet, to provide for our loved ones, to give to the needy. We try to fix broken political systems, institute just laws, and battle for the lives of the defenseless. But we are living in a fallen world where our best efforts can seem to be insufficient.

Biblical counsel calls us to, in dimes of fear or discouragement especially, number our days rightly. We need to remember that the 80 years that we may live are but a drop in the bucket of our existence. We are barely on the first step of the front porch of our real lives. The door beyond that will open when this life is at an end is where we will truly live. Yes, our lives here matter as we have the opportunity to glorify God in the here and now. But what will matter even more is the forever that is to follow.

Christian, as you think about your life, do not forget forever. When things are hard or scary, think eternally. When you feel disappointed that you may never afford that sweet European vacation, remember that you will have eternity with Christ after his return to see sights that would make the grandest vistas of this age seem as nothing. Whenever you feel that your health has let you down, remember that all who are in Christ have life promised us, life and brand new, never-wearing-out, resurrection bodies. Whenever you think that the things you do today are irrelevant to a big world that will not listen, remember that we live for the God who made us and who sees us inside and out. Remember forever in Christ, and you will walk stronger through the ugly of the here and now.

Hope in What is to Come

When people think of discussions of end times theology, we so often get bogged down in symbolism and timelines. What is the beast? What does that number mean? Are those years literal or figurative? Does this happen before that?

In my read through Isaiah, I found myself captivated by a passage that I think points us toward the reign of Messiah as King on earth. For sure, the things we see here are things that we should be pressing toward today as the church obeys the Lord’s command to have dominion on earth. And I think that these things are going to be perfectly seen at the return of the Lord.

Now, before we try to figure out if my eschatology or my present focus is right or wrong, how about we simply look at some promises that the Lord has made that we can find great joy in? IN fact, why not look at this and see what you find most joyful and hopeful for those who know the Lord?

Isaiah 32:1-5

1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule in justice.
2 Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a shelter from the storm,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
4 The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
5 The fool will no more be called noble,
nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.

Think about what we see in these 5 verses. A truly righteous king will reign with righteous princes under him. Any world in which politics is not the cesspool that we see today is a better world. And I think that the prince here is Messiah, an even better picture.

But also we see wonderful things . Blind eyes see. Deaf ears hear. Cluttered minds think clearly. Tongues that just can’t make words come out of dear little mouths are now free to speak and sing. This is a glorious world to come.

And we also see that fools and scoundrels are no longer seen as heroes. Instead, righteousness is honored and treasured. Folly is no longer worshipped. All this sounds like bad business for Hollywood and corrupt politicians, but it is great for a world in which we actually want to live.

The beauty is, we see these things when Jesus walked the earth. Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, clarity of mind to the oppressed, and speech to those who could not speak. Jesus showed us that he brings this glorious world. The church is to press toward that world. And the Lord promises us a day when Christ returns, and then the full joys of such a kingdom will be realized.

God often reminds us in his word to hope in heaven, to hope in the return of the Lord. Let’s not forget to do that on our day to day living. Let’s remember that Christ sets right the wrong of the world. Let’s remember that he is our glorious King. Let’s long for his return. Let’s rejoice in his promises. Let’s find that joy motivating to be a part of pushing back the darkness in our present world as we live for the one to come.

Motivated by Eternity

What makes the lives and values of Christians different from the lives and values of those around them? In that question, I’m not declaring that all who claim to be Christian are nicer or better in any way than anyone else. What I am pointing to is the fact that true Christians have a different value system than the world around them. True Christians live by a morality that is different than the world around them.

The concept of Christians holding to a different morality or a different meaning for life is an offensive thing to the world in which we live. When Christians declare that something is a sin that the world does not call a sin, the world is deeply offended. The world accuses the Christian of being hateful if the Christian and the world see a moral imperative differently.

There are certainly people in the world who would call themselves Christians and who are hateful people. But those who love God and his word would not truly be categorized as hateful. Yet, those who love God and his word will certainly honestly declare that there is such a thing as sin, that the morality of our culture is no longer in line with that of the Lord, and that repentance is necessary if we are to avoid destruction. Loving Christians must not be silent, even if the world receives loving warnings as hateful declarations.

Have you ever stopped to wonder, however, why it is that we keep on? Why do Christians continue to say what we say in a world that does not want to hear us? Why do we continue to risk our own comforts, sometimes our own freedoms, so that we can keep declaring the truths of the word of God? Why do we live valuing things the world hates? Isn’t it hard?

1 Corinthians 15:30-32 – 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul shares with the church a moment of painful honesty. Paul says he dies every day. Every day of his life in Ephesus, at least over a season, was a heart-piercing challenge. Paul refers to his opponents as wild beasts, nasty, aggressive, evil men sent on his destruction. Why did Paul keep it up?

The context of this discussion is a fundamental discussion of life after death. Some in Corinth were declaring that there is no resurrection of the dead. And Paul, in the light of that craziness, says that if there is no resurrection from the dead, if there is no literal life to come after this one, then he might as well join the pagans in their debauchery.

In that, we are reminded of a motivation for our living differently. Why do we press on even when the world is going to hate us for not agreeing with their morality? The answer is that we keep on because there is life after death. There is an eternity to come in which we will all continue to exist. There is a heaven. There is a hell. There is a God we face. And the reality of eternity keeps Christians leaning into hard things in this life.

If all my morality consists of is a personal preference as to what is good and what is icky, I have no reason, no motivation to share it. If all I have is what I think is a better system to pass our years on earth before ending into nothingness, then I have no reason to share it. But, if what I have is the true word of God, a word that declares a life after this one—a life that will last infinitely longer than this one—I have a real reason to share it. I want to honor the God who has given me grace. I want to have the joy of speaking his truth even if others cannot tolerate it. I want to call on others to turn from sin and surrender to the Lord for his mercy. I want to see people saved for eternity. And that eternity that exists beyond this life, that eternity is what will continue to motivate Christians to declare the gospel of Christ to a world that does not want it.

Why tell people what is sinful? We tell people things are sinful so they can see that they need the Savior. Why risk offending people with our morality? We risk it because we are declaring the standards of the God who made us, who will judge us, and who understands true morality in a way that sinful humans cannot. Why go through the hardship when we know the world will mostly reject it? We go through the hardship to honor the Lord and because we know that some who hear the message, by the grace of God, will see their sin, see the grace of Christ, turn away from sin, turn to Jesus, and be saved for eternity. We press on, motivated by eternity.