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“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
As a church, we have been reading through the Bible in 2021, and the first book we finished was Job. One of the fundamental questions raised by Job for me was this: “What if God were to tell you, ‘I am going to make your life an inspiration to millions of people for generations to come. But in order to do that, I am going to have to take away almost everything that matters to you, including your children, your health, and your possessions.’” How would I answer Him? Would I be willing to give up that which I love for the sake of His glory and the salvation of others?
This week, a similar question has been going around in my ahead. What if God told me that He was going to answer my prayers for revival – not by bringing revival to our church, but to every other church? What if He told me that I could not tell this to anyone, and that while every other pastor and church would experience incredible things and be seen as shining examples, I would not, that people would assume I was doing something wrong? Would I be willing to trust God if that were my journey? Would I be willing to lay down my pride and desire for self-glory for the sake of His glory and the salvation of others?
In the case of Job, he had to deal with all of his friends assuming that he was harboring sin, that his righteousness was a sham and that God was not with him. Despite the reality, that he was actually more righteous than anyone else, and that his sufferings were not connected to any sin on his part, he had to live with the shame and ignominy that came with his predicament. In my hypothetical case, I might be completely in God’s will, faithful to what He has called me to, and appear like a complete failure to the watching world. Would honoring God, and knowing that I was living faithfully to Him, be enough for me?
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul writes that, as believers, “we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” The world judges people on characteristics such financial prosperity, external beauty, the applause of the crowd, and the number of people who follow us. But God measures people based on faithfulness to Him, regardless of the outcome. As we see in the list of saints in Hebrews 11, sometimes faithfulness results in glory and worldly success. For others, the result of faithfulness could be a lifetime of suffering and martyrdom. Some may receive a loving spouse, or believing children, or career success, or good health and long life. Others might walk a road of loneliness, rejection, frustration, and pain. The question is, are you following God for the earthly benefits, for what He can give to you? Or are you following God because He loves you, because Jesus died for you, because you believe that in Him is found life to the full, and because your greatest desire is to bring Him glory through your life?
Consider carefully what your answer is. I know what mine is. You can have all this world. Give me Jesus.
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