Can I Have Nothing In This Life?
In the previous chapter, we looked at happiness. An absolute mind might think that in order for one to have peace in heaven, that individual can’t have anything in this life. That’s not necessarily true either. Our Heavenly Father loves to bless his children. And those who seek his kingdom and righteousness will always be provided for. (Matthew 6:33)
There are indeed material blessings for those who follow his commandments. “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your heads and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you even ways.” (Deuteronomy 28:3-8)
The danger becomes thinking of God like some sort of shopkeeper. First in His grace, God gave us forgiveness of our sins, removing the price of death. This is the kindest thing anyone could do. Even so, God still graciously provides for us. Even more so, God lovingly blesses us. These are, all of them, gifts that he gives in love, and can take for his reasons. (A very vague reference to Job.)
I mention this because too often we follow with a heart full of desire rather than devotion. And that’s the real trick. If you go to work, you expect to be paid for your work. If you make a trade, you expect to receive fair compensation. Who wouldn’t? But what service can you offer the Lord that deserves anything?
I don’t know about you, good reader, but I’ve certainly said something to the effect of, “After all I’ve done, I deserve (insert monetary desire)!” Here we go again. If our service and worship was for the sake of gain, it wasn’t real worship.
We see this lesson most clearly in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
Perhaps I bring this up, and you wonder, “Wait, wasn’t this the story about the guy who demanded his inheritance and then squandered it?”
Yep, that’s the one. Lots of people, heck, most children, can remember the story of the younger son. But do you remember the older brother? More importantly, do you remember how that son reacted when his younger brother was welcomed back with a feast?
Verse 29 carries that wonderfully insightful example:
“ … but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.”
Here we see the motivation for that obedience. This son served his father only wanting what rewards he thought he was due. Even so, this parable contains the loving truth:
“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (Luke 15:31)
Why covet a (in this case) goat when you already have everything?
We often get caught up in things. I sure do. But when I pull back for a moment and reset my focus on the correct source, things start to calm down. Brothers and sisters, I’m not telling you that you have to live a life of poverty and famine to assure your place in Heaven. In fact, if you think you have to do something to get into Heaven, you’re woefully misguided. Our redemption, through Christ, is a gift.
So the things we do aren’t an effort to earn anything. Instead, what things we do are a result of what has been done for us.
I’m not asserting millions for “true believers,” and I’d caution you to look carefully at anyone proclaiming God gives money for faith. Again, the sovereign creator of the universe and everything in it frankly doesn’t need a darn thing. He gives, and he takes. He has his reasons.
Those who follow Christ faithfully, have already assured themselves a place in Heaven. The Lord may also grant you many blessings. Just don’t let the expectation of material, earthly things to become the God you serve. It’s that covetous nature that can tempt a person. It becomes a barrier.
So if we focus on Him, everything else will truly take care of itself. We may find trials and tribulation, but that’s why we’re told to learn to be content in whatever situation. (Paraphrase of Philippians 4:11)
God knows better than anyone how to give wonderful gifts. (Matthew 7:11)
For our panel: Should we be afraid for our souls if we get a big raise or a new high-paying job? What’s the secret to being content in any situation? How worried should we be about worldly provision and abundance? How do we claim God provides for us like is says in Matthew when we live in a world with homeless people? Are they without faith?