Three Worms That Spoil the Fruit
"Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are . . . blind, and naked-I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments . . . that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see."
-Revelation 3:17-18, emphasis added
Jesus promised that He would get all His children home safely, and we will live with Him forever. Although that is exciting news, what we often forget is the need to be sending treasures on ahead because there are only pre-paid treasures in heaven. Our mission on earth therefore is to be transmuting earthly treasures into heavenly currency.
When we take that final trip with Jesus-through the valley of the shadow of death or in the skies through the clouds at the voice of the archangel and the trump of God-no baggage left here can accompany us. Only what we have sent on ahead will make it to heaven. Transmuted wealth is all that will be worth anything in heaven.
Pastor Jan Hettinga wrote a book on this subject that is so good that I just have to share a portion of it with you. Except for the Bible, Hettinga's Follow Me is one of the few books I've read more than once. What struck me most when I read it is this: there are three terrible dangers that can rob anyone of finishing well and earning Christ's "Well done!" Afterward, I thought: Wow! I don't want to be robbed of Christ's "Well done-good and faithful servant!"
Here are the three dangers that should concern all who seek Christ's full rewards in heaven:
Danger 1-Beware of the sins of old age. These sins (which can occur at any age) can erase Christ's "Well done!" Remember Solomon: he began by sacrificing thousands of animals and building the most beautiful worship place for the Lord, but he failed to finish well. He got to heaven "yet so as by fire." (In today's language, we'd say that Solomon got into heaven "by the skin of his teeth.") What are these sins of old age?
The Lust for Comfort and Convenience: This sin is epidemic. We continually lust for comfort. People read magazines on how to make their home or car even more comfortable. We are guilty of lust, which is to have a strong desire for comfort and convenience. Do you know how I know that occurs even in the church? Every time it rains or snows heavily, attendance is down. And excuses like this are common: "It's just too inconvenient in bad weather to load everybody into the car, slosh through puddles and mud in the parking lot, and then have to deal with all the wet coats once we get into the building." A life consumed with a lust for comfort and convenience like that won't finish well.
Greed for Recognition: Older people usually want to receive recognition of some sort. In fact, it seems that almost everyone lusts for the applause of others. We must beware of seeking approval from people and instead seek approval only from God.
Covetousness for Security: Our whole country has become security-obsessed. People want to know how to best secure retirement funds, how to secure college education funds, how to get job security, and how to secure their homes and other possessions. We are caught up in the pursuit of security and are wasting valuable time and energy to protect things we cannot keep.
These sins of old age-the lust for comfort, greed for recognition, and covetousness for security-can erase Christ's "Well done!"
Danger 2-Beware of the problem of exceptionism. What is exceptionism? It is thinking that your life is an exception to God's Word. Thus you excuse yourself from doing anything for heaven because of things like your past, pain, poverty, or poor self-image. The reason exceptionism can erase Christ's "Well done!" is because when we hear an exhortation to "Go into all the world, speak to every creature, and live your life looking for Christ"-many excuse themselves saying, "Oh, I can't do that just now. At this time in my life I can't spare a minute-not even for reading the Word, ministering, praying, or evangelizing."
Think carefully on this: you will never be in the future what you are not becoming today. If you are not responding to and obeying God's Word now, and you feel like you're always an exception, that attitude will stay with you till the end. Consider Annanias and Sapphira, who thought they were exceptions to the rule. Since everybody else was sacrificing, and they felt that they couldn't, they decided to at least look like they did. That bad decision not only cost them their lives but also erased Christ's "Well done!"
Danger 3-Beware of unmortified pockets of pride. "Unmortified pockets of pride" sounds like abscesses in the body, but that is really what he is talking about. Allowing such pockets of pride to grow can make you secretly, inwardly proud of your intellect (thinking you are smarter than others), or proud of your achievements, or proud of your giftedness (even in the church), or proud of your goodness ("I'm not as bad as they are"). Sin, in the light of sin, never does look bad, but sin in the light of God's holiness always looks bad. Pockets of pride in your life can erase Christ's "Well done!" The cure is to allow the power of God's Word through the Holy Spirit to deal with even the slightest prideful "abscess" at the moment it begins to erupt.
To avoid these dangers and to help you get ready for Christ's "Well done!" in heaven, you must listen carefully to what Jesus has to say about what He expects when He comes back for us. What does He want to see cultivated in our lives? I have located twelve expectations, and we will go over them in tomorrow's devotional.
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