There’s a beautiful song that goes…
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
Paul, the apostle must have been thinking along these lines when he wrote 2 Corinthians 4:18… we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This does not mean separating yourself from the material world, denying all worldly goods and go looking after goats and chickens while waiting for the afterlife.
There is a saying that a person mustn’t be so heavenly minded that the person is of no earthly use. Such a person ends up with an idle mind, the perfect place for the devil to play havoc with.
There is this world religion that teaches that detachment from the world can draw one closer to Nirvana, the state of becoming non-existent as one becomes one with the universe. This, it reckons, is the remedy for suffering.
That is the reason why ascetics live miserable lives, denying themselves of any worldly pleasures and comforts, believing that such self denials will somehow lead to inner peace and happiness.
There are also some people who call themselves Christians who believe likewise. For them, the work of Jesus wasn’t finished on the cross, and so they have to punish themselves by doing penance to help complete it.
This is sad because the work of salvation was indeed completed on the cross. Everything was done when Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” No more self inflicted suffering is needed.
The Bible teaches that suffering is a part of life. Suffering produces endurance which in turn strengthens and develops character. Suffering is not something to be pursued, but it has to be accepted and embraced when it does come.
Didn’t Jesus tell the rich young ruler to…”Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me?” (Luke 18:22)
Yes, He did.
But the problem with the rich young ruler wasn’t so much his wealth as to the fact that he was overly concerned about his remaining wealth. This was preventing him from pursuing the more important matters of life… like the things that are eternal above: things that are higher and things that are nobler.
After all, it really doesn’t take much to be satisfied with life here on earth. If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:8)
Being wealthy isn’t an obstacle to spiritual peace and happiness if one has his or her heart in the right place. Godliness, as described in 1 Timothy 6:6… with contentment is great gain.
We must not let the pursuit of material gains blind us from the pursuit of spiritual things. For this reason Christians are taught to give generously as part of their worship.
Giving has to be free-willed and voluntary. The act of giving teaches 3 things…
1. It teaches that everything we have comes from God. It makes us thankful and generous.
2. It liberates us from living only for ourselves. It makes us grateful.
3. It makes us realize how we are to be a blessing to the weaker ones around us. In other words, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)
Giving is not for bribing God to enrich self as is taught by preachers of the Prosperity Gospel. Giving is not for seeding faith and expecting rich returns. If you do that I can guarantee you that someone’s going to get rich, but it’s certainly not you. The only people who’ll get rich are the peddlers of the Prosperity Gospel.
There is a lot of mumbo jumbo teachings out there that promise you wealth, but only if you were to pray in ‘tongues’, take the Lord’s Supper in a special way, repeatedly chant certain verses from the Bible and attend a course. This is witchcraft or sorcery.
Remember that a Christian is God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
By all means work to be rich, but be warned that being rich can cause a person to keep his eyes on the world, taking his eyes off Jesus.
The remedy for this is not to be haughty, nor to set your hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
So set your eyes on the things above and guard your heart. As for me, I’m resolved no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight. Believing in Jesus as my Saviour, I’m free to pursue and develop the fruit of the Spirit… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are eternal and for keeps in eternity.