|Volume 19 Number 12 December 2017||
Gary C. Hampton
The world emphasizes “my rights,” while Christians stress serving “one another.” The contrast between the two approaches is readily seen in Jesus’ response to a request made by James and John. They wanted to sit one on the right hand and the other on the left hand of Jesus when He was in His glory. The ten, having overheard the conversation, were very upset with the two sons of Zebedee. Jesus explained that greatness would not be based on exercising authority, but service. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35-45).
The Lord demonstrated such greatness by washing their feet on the night of His betrayal. He explained, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:12b-15).
The first Christians went so far as selling possessions so the money could be used to provide for any fellow believer who had need (Acts 2:44-45). Paul commended Phoebe because of her service to the brethren (Romans 16:1-2).
The Galatians were freed from the Law of Moses, but not to do wicked things. Instead, Paul said they should lovingly serve one another. Jesus emphasized the importance of loving one’s neighbor (Mark 12:29-31). Refusing to serve one’s brethren is the first step on a hateful course. Paul cautioned that this would lead to biting and devouring until brethren would finally consume one another. A negative spirit allowed to run wild will eventually kill all the good a church has been doing and leave it to suffocate on its own critical breath (Galatians 5:13-15).
We should constantly be on the lookout for needs in the lives of other members of God’s family. Then, we should respond by serving one another.
Understanding Your Worth
“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? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:26-27). This Scripture is in the context of Jesus talking to His disciples about what it means to be His follower, the need for commitment. Obviously, not everyone is willing to commit what it takes to follow Christ; some are content to settle for something less than what God wants, or to exchange their eternal souls for what the physical world has to offer. It is a philosophy of life Peter warned his readers about as well. “For there has already been enough time spent in doing what the pagans choose to do” (1 Peter 4:3).
To settle for the flesh and forfeit the spiritual is a poor trade at best. Paul reminded us that the philosophy of the world, the value system by which it lives, is not living for Christ. “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). To have Christ is to have everything; to exchange His way of life for the world’s is to lose everything in the end. How many have exchanged eternal life for the pursuit of sensual desires (1 Peter 4:3-5)? The rich young ruler went away filled with sorrow when he learned that his pursuit of wealth and possessions had come between him and eternal life (Matthew 19:22). He came wanting to obtain eternal life, but he left without it, as he couldn’t part with the things for which he had exchanged eternal life.
If you were asked, “What is most important to you?” how would you answer? Anything other than Christ and His kingdom will disappoint on the Day of Judgment. Satan doesn’t want us to remember, or incorporate into our consciousness, that such a day is coming. He has convinced many that it doesn’t matter how one lives, as God will offer eternal life in the end no matter what. That is a lie that will bring weeping and gnashing of teeth. As Jesus said, we will be repaid according to what each of us does.
Yet, what value there is in living for Christ! In Him we have all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), which includes God’s grace, mercy, peace, hope, His promises including eternal life and every other blessing we need. He provides what we need for today (Matthew 6:33) as well as what we need tomorrow (2 Peter 1:3). Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ (Romans 8:39). His blessings, and how He provides them to us, are for our good (James 1:17). When trials come our way, He is always there with us (Hebrews 13:5). Greatest of all, the end of this life will transport us into eternal life (Philippians 3:20-21). No wonder Paul could summarize his existence in the words, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)!
You see, we are to make use of the things of this life to help us better live in Christ for the next life, for eternity, not to exchange our soul for things. If I exchange my soul for what many might call the good life today, what does that profit in the end? No matter how long one lives, or how long one lives for fleshly desires, how will that compare to never ending, eternal condemnation? This is the point Jesus was trying to get us to understand; nothing in this life, which will only be destroyed (2 Peter 3:12), is worth spending eternity in hell. How precious our soul’s salvation is, since it was purchased for us by the blood of Christ. We should examine what is most important to us and how we live for that in comparison to our soul’s salvation. Nothing is more important in this life than that; nothing is worth living for in exchange of that.
As we look forward to a new year, now would be a great time to evaluate our priorities. For what is it we truly live? Determine to put Christ first. Christ tells us everything we say and do in the here and the now must be done in His will for us (Colossians 3:17). To do otherwise is to make a sad exchange, which we will regret. Spend the upcoming year living truly for Him and find real life, now and forever. Your soul is worth nothing less. “Live for Jesus, O my brothers, His disciples ever be, Render not to any other, What alone the Lord’s should be.”