Saturday, September 4, 2010

Choosing the Right Side (Mark 8:31-38), Part 4 – Choose the Right Focus in Life (vv 36-38)

Jim Eliott is very well-known for his statement “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” When Jim Eliott made this statement he may have been applying Mark 8:36-38, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." With these questions, Jesus challenges us to think about our real focus in life. Do we live for the things of this world? As Christians, we believe we will live with Jesus Christ in eternity. However, how is this fact lived out in our daily lives? Are we living in anticipation for his commendation when he comes again in glory? Are our lives focused on the temporal things of this world? Or do we live with one eye on eternity? He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Our focus in daily life determines how we live our daily lives.

People without God have nothing better to live for. So their lives are portrayed by chasing after earthly things – eating, drinking and material possessions. The more they have, the more successful they seem to be. There is nothing wrong with eating, drinking and having material possessions. However, the point is that should not be the main goal of our lives. We should live for what is eternal and not what is temporary.

That means we refocus whatever we do to reflect Christ’s Kingdom. If you are a businessman, apply Christian principles to your business. If you are a worker, work like your boss is Christ himself. In the home, inculcate Kingdom values in your children. Train them to have values and concerns and priorities and relationships as citizens of God’s kingdom. I am sure we are concerned that our children get a good education, job, etc. That is not a bad thing but that is also not the only thing in life. Our children should also learn to put Christ first. It is good to celebrate good grades, goals and the achievements of our children at home. However we should also celebrate Kingdom values such as godliness, humility, purity, stewardship and self-sacrifice.

In the use of our time and money, we should be kingdom-focused. That means we set goals for our giving. I am always edified by news of churches’ outreach ministries to the people around them. That is really being kingdom-minded. To fund those programs, God’s people need to give. It is only because many Christians cultivate a generous and giving spirit that makes all that possible. I am sure that if everyone was kingdom-focused all, ministry needs will be met and even more new ministries started.

Perhaps, it is also good for us to think specifically about how we can make some needed changes that reflect our kingdom focus. What can we do to be a better steward of our mind? Not our time but our mind. Perhaps we can keep track of our entertainment time? That means checking to see how much time we spend on TV, games, net surfing, etc. Then we compare it with the time we spend reading the Bible and prayer daily. If the gap is wide, we need to cut down on our entertainment and use the time for our spiritual pursuits. After all, which one has temporal and which one has eternal value?

Is there some thing we can do to invest in a ministry? We could go for training, check out our church ministries and set goals, find out the needs and opportunities for outreach. There is always something we can do for God’s kingdom. The work is never finished.

Keeping our focus on the kingdom is a mark of a follower of Christ. That is what Jesus is reminding us of as he says “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Our heavenly father knows what is truly valuable and will rust away or be eaten by moths. He has created the whole universe in such perfect order. Surely we can trust in his ability to define the worthy things we should focus on, in this life.

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