Focus; May 19, 2018

Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

It has become a horribly misused cliché, but you can’t out-give God. It is very sad that some preachers have twisted this verse into a “give to get” philosophy. It is very telling that in such cases, it’s generally “Give to me so you will get.” Such people receive their judgment from God Himself. However, such misuse doesn’t negate the truth of what Jesus said. The sticking point comes in what we have actually left, and whether we have really done it for Christ. When someone was praising my mother for “all you have given up to be a missionary,” she replied that the only thing she felt she had given up was physical proximity to family. Our problem is that we tend to fixate on the material and the temporal, rather than really seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. “Giving to get” materially speaking does us no good at all. However, it is manifestly true that “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” That was originally stated in terms of physical vs. eternal life, and puts this whole issue into perspective. As Jesus said elsewhere, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:24-27) We need to hold everything loosely, and leave our reward up to God.

In a sense this is close to home, since Cathy is in the process of liquidating her share in her family’s farm so that the funds may be used for ministry here. However, I’ve never felt like God was stingy. The longer I live, the better I understand the difference between temporal and eternal. Most of what consumes the world is strictly temporal, that is, limited to time and space. That is by very definition temporary, and God offers us what is eternal. I certainly live in the flow of time, and temporal things do matter to me, but their hold on me diminishes as I sharpen my focus on Christ. I don’t know what my eventual reward will be, but I am absolutely confident it will be more than worth it. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Father, thank You for this reminder. It can be easy to lose focus! Help me seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness on every level, not being distracted by the material, so that I may bring as many eternal souls as possible with me into Your presence, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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