Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Investing in the Eternal

The World and Its Desires Pass Away
1 John 2:15-17 “15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
One of the tensions that is commonly alluded to throughout the Bible is the tension between the eternal and the temporal. When reading our Scripture here from 1 John, we have a natural tendency to point out the principle of not loving the things of the world that do not come from the Father. While this practice is great and will yield blessing, let us not skip over the latter portion of the verse that explains why we should not love the things of the world. While we may be blessed in the temporal realm for not loving the things of this world, it is more important for us to understand that the reason for this is actually due to the eternal benefits: the things of this world pass away, whereas what comes from the Father remains eternal.

The Danger of Squandering Our Resources
Proverbs 29:3 “To keep company with prostitutes is to squander one’s substance.”
While this verse is easily understood if taken literally, the metaphorical interpretation is just as pertinent. Frequently in Scripture, the Bible uses the concept of prostitution as a literary device to make a striking correlation between humanity’s actions and spiritual infidelity. “Keeping company” implies that we are engaging with the individual(s) on a frequent basis. The usage of the term “prostitutes” implies that we are wooing the individual(s) with “gifts” and expecting to receive something in return. Ezekiel 16:1-34 can be a good example of this use of metaphor, and here we also see that the giving of “gifts” need not be restricted to just monetary advances. In other words, who are we keeping company with in such a way where we are squandering the precious “gifts” of our time, money, emotions, or our presence?

This isn’t referring to friendship where two parties give freely to one another without an obligatory transaction of services or goods. Nor is this referring to evangelism or ministering to the lost, where one party selflessly gives to another in the name of Jesus Christ without expecting anything in return. This is even different from casting your pearls before swine, for swine neither have use for your pearls nor find value in them (Matthew 7:6). Instead, Proverbs’ usage of the term “prostitutes” implies that these entities in our lives knowingly take advantage of our resources while also helping us sin in the process. Such resources and gifts effectively become “squandered” because they are not being sown in a soil that returns anything for the purpose of the kingdom of God.

Investing in the Eternal
Do we have a love so strong for the things of this world that we are willing to keep company with metaphorical prostitutes in order to seek out our temporal preferences and pleasures? Do we love our job so much that we ignore our family and squander excessive amounts of our time at the office to receive a corporate perk? Do we love adult entertainment and ignore our spouse when we squander our emotional intimacy on the tempting glow of our phones and TV sets? Or do we love our social status so much that we ignore the relationships we can build in the church and squander our time with other acquaintances just to keep up appearances? Allow us to make modifications to our spiritual portfolio and intentionally focus on investing in the eternal. Jesus is quite clear on this principle when He encourages us to store up treasures in heaven instead of focusing on the things that rust or rot or fade away on this earth (Matthew 6:19-21). Allow us to invest in the only stock that always increases in eternal value, regardless of what occurs in the spiritual marketplace of the temporal: stock in Jesus Christ.

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