Truly Life
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 5:00PM
Jeff Smith in Discipleship, Judgment

Serving God has never been without its price. Wealthy men like Abraham, Job and John Mark found the costs to be difficult to be borne, so much that the infamous rich, young ruler walked away from Jesus rather than pay it. Strong people like Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah sometimes buckled under the pressure, even if they never quite broke. Today, people can look at the Christian life and see many deprivations and restrictions that seem unpleasant and sometimes the people of God make it look worse by wearing misery upon their faces and their tongues. In spite of all the evidence that the disciple’s life is filled with adversity, we are nevertheless constantly reminded that a life of forgiveness and direction is better than aimlessness and guilt, and that we are in pursuit of “that which is truly life” (First Timothy 6:19).


I. Set For Life

    A. Certain Happiness

        1. whenever a professional athlete signs his first multi-year, multi-million dollar contract, someone acknowledges that, regardless of what happens next, he is set for life

            a. of course, some millionaire athletes and entertainers find a way to gamble, give or prostitute away great sums of money, but with just a little restraint, they can live in opulent luxury without having to worry for the rest of their lives

            b. from the outside, we imagine that they must be blissfully happy, but the number of divorces, arrests, and addictions signals the fact that money, even in large sums, does not buy happiness

        2. what is that people are seeking to obtain and maintain to ensure happiness?

            a. freedom from fear, sadness, worry and anxiety

            b. perfect health

            c. a collection of friends, family and a companion

            d. a secure place to live

            e. enough money that they need only to work if they choose

        3. in many ways, what most people are seeking is Heaven on Earth, but even those who do achieve happiness and feel set for life fall short of Heaven on Earth (Luke 12:13-21)


    B. The Illusion

        1. truly, monetary and physical contentment on Earth is only a small part of that sense of security, because many wealthy people are woefully unhappy because of the presence of greed, selfishness and wickedness in their lives, draining the mammon of its nectars

        2. we are so shocked when the rich and famous take their own lives or fall into crime, but we are just discovering that material satisfaction is usually an illusion, a self-delusion by which the devil distracts people from a nobler goal (Proverbs 23:1-5)

        3. being monetarily set for life sounds so wonderful and liberating and yet it rarely turns out that way for the people who quickly fall into ennui, aimlessness, and sin

        4. the essence of the illusion is what constitutes life – is it even possible to be set for life and if so, could a surplus of money really achieve the goal? (John 10:7-10)

            a. Jesus piques our curiosity because he claims to love us and to have come, not only that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly than would otherwise be possible

            b. Jesus is offering a security and happiness that is not negotiated with money, but is valued according to a higher commodity, one that is not vulnerable to the vicissitudes of life that are often beyond our control (Matthew 6:19-24)


II. Truly Life

    A. Warning to the Rich

        1. in the first century, that was exactly what the Holy Spirit wanted to warn Christians about – the sense that they were so set for life that nothing could touch them, especially since false security proved something had already touched them in a dangerous way (First Timothy 6:6-10)

        2. there is a distinction between what appears to be life – living it up with great gusto – and what is truly life – an experience which is barely possible upon this Earth, and only in an anticipatory earnest of the finished product

        3. and Paul’s instructions to Timothy as the younger man worked among the Christians in Ephesus speaks volumes to us today – Christians living in a time of relative prosperity, in the greatest economy in the history of the world, where even the poor can expect to settle into a societal safety net that will prevent starvation and homelessness

        4. Paul is writing to Christians who are tempted to push that which is truly life to the back of their minds in the pursuit of more immediate feelings of financial and emotional security through the acquisition and hoarding of things and the exploration of hedonistic pleasure

            a. he echoes the resigned sentiments of Job, who, upon learning of the loss of his property and children – some of the very things that our peace depends upon – exclaimed, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

            b. ambition for possessions that exceed our needs is universal, but also perilous, because it often invites compromise and a shifting of loyalties in the direction of the employer, the customer, the ruler, and a transfer of energy to the lucrative hobby, trade, or profession

                1. sports provides a ready illustration as little boys play baseball for the love of the game, the dirtiness of the field, the ping of the bat and the thrill of victory, but for the very good, somewhere along the line the game becomes a matter of the money it can earn, and that is changing at an earlier age all the time

                2. it is possible that that the 42-year-old guy playing in a community softball league for nothing enjoys the game more than the major leaguer on a ten-million-dollar deal because doing things for money usually soils the activity, turning a joy into a job

        5. in many ways, we were all richer today than most who lived in the first century, as a vast middle class has replaced much of what then would have been abject poverty; we need to heed the warnings against sacrificing that which is truly life for the illusion of earthly security (First Timothy 6:17-19)

            a. riches make people proud, disdainful of those who have less

            b. riches are uncertain, as fortunes are lost every day through natural disasters, fluctuations in the marketplace, and the proverbial moth and rust

            c. that which is truly life requires an earthly investment in a heavenly treasure – by sharing with those who have less or depend upon the gospel for their living, by excelling in good works, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8).


    B. True Life

        1. Jesus claimed to be the embodiment of life, the truth and way to life that is not susceptible to disease, devaluation, or death; Paul was his apostle, sent to communicate that fact “according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” (Second Timothy 1:1).

        2. they were ambassadors of reconciliation and eternal life beyond this planet was their objective (Titus 1:1-3)

        3. that which is truly life is our “eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15) and any legitimate happiness and emotional security that we experience here is but an earnest, or down payment, on that which is to come (First Peter 1:3-5)

            a. “He will render to each one according to his works to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7).

        4. how did people define being set for life on Earth? – according to what they should have sought in Heaven (Revelation 21:1-4, 22:1-5)

            a. freedom from fear, sadness, worry and anxiety

            b. perfect health

            c. a collection of friends, family and companionship

            d. a secure place to live

            e. no more money worries, but freedom to worship forever

        5. that which is truly life is not really obtainable on Earth, except in the sense of hope and trust, which should not be minimized, but which is not comparable to eternal life (see Titus 3:7, First John 2:25)

            a. Christians are so incredibly blessed to serve a God who ultimately will save them, even if that does not always translate into earthly wealth or honored fame, and is sometimes accompanied by persecution and anxiety

        b. Isaiah wrote, 


Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations. (Isaiah 51:7-8)



Being a Christian is not without its costs, but no price is greater than the one paid by Jesus on the cross. He paid the real price with his blood and every sacrifice we make is but laying up treasure in heaven, an investment in that which is truly life.


Questions For Review

  1. What did Abraham, Job and John Mark sacrifice to serve God?
  2. What were the emotional struggles of Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah?
  3. How do people define being “set for life”?
  4. What makes that definition such an illusion?
  5. What was Paul’s warning to the rich?
  6. What is truly life?
  7. Is it obtainable on Earth? Explain.
Update on Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 1:13PM by Registered CommenterJeff Smith

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