Recently, on returning from shopping, our daughter found that during her brief absence a thief broke into the house and stole some valuable items she and her husband highly prized. Their work, and their efforts to save funds to purchase these prized items now seemed all in vain. What a disappointment!
After years of comfortable living in their own homes, many villagers of Kosovo, Yugoslavia, were, with their children, suddenly evicted from their dwellings, and brutally thrust into the cold, with nothing to eat, and no shelter. They were forced to leave everything and head to an unknown destination. What a tragedy!
Such scenarios, and many others of similar disappointment and calamity are constantly repeated all over the world. Jesus tells us of yet another person who thought all was well with him, because he had enough of everything. "A certain rich man...thought to himself...'I have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.' " (Luke 12:16:21 NIV). But he was mistaken. That same night God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"
This past spring, our nation experienced several severe hurricanes and tornadoes, bringing sudden destruction, loss, panic and death. In a moment, people's work, energies, savings, and hopes for material well being, were suddenly smashed to bits. Destroyed, gone!
After accumulating a fabulous amount of wealth, and experiencing all of the enjoyments and honors a person could ever hope to get from life, Solomon, the world's wisest man said, "I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me...I denied myself nothing my eyes desired...Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing gained under the sun." (Eccl. 2:9-11). He had to admit there was still something missing in his life. Earthly things are very temporal.
Jesus said, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Lk. 12:15).
He warns us against setting our goals on earthly things because they will not last. They can vanish like a vapor. "Do not store for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Instead, Jesus urges His followers to direct their energies and efforts toward -- storing up "treasures in heaven" where nothing can destroy them or steal them. (Mat. 6:19, 20).
Our own efforts will come to nothingIn the final analysis, our human efforts to gain lasting personal comforts and honors shall come to nothing. But there are treasures of true and eternal worth we can gain during our lifetime. Paul urges us, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col. 3:2). Jesus taught, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and...don't worry about tomorrow." (Mt. 6:33, 34). This treasure, the "Pearl of great price" (Mt. 13:45), is eternal, and worth sacrificing for. Paul set his goal, and boldly testified, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things; I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ" (Phil.3:8).
What a disappointment it would be, if after using up a life of time, money, energy, etc., to gain material, financial and social standing, -- that in the end, we find it was all in vain, -- no gain -- only loss.
It need not be so for true believers. Let us "Seek first" -- God's things, so we may hear the Master's, "Well done!"