Once, I was speaking at a meeting near San Francisco. As usual, at the end, I gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions. One woman said, “How can I give up the strong desire I have for materialism?”
We all ask similar questions. Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who sold everything in order to buy the “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:46)? Before he could give up all he had, the man had to see the value of this pearl. In this action we find no grumbling, mumbling, pain or self-pity. It was all joy.
Living for Something Better
In 1920, English archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley went to the site of ancient Mesopotamia, the world’s earliest known civilization. He went there to study the ancient city of Ur. Through his excavation, Woolley and his people learned that Ur was truly a very affluent society. They were rolling in gold!
This was where Abraham came from. He had it made. He was well established. He had security. But one day the living God told him, “Leave this place. Give up all you have. Walk away from all your family and friends and then go to a place I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, paraphrased). God didn’t even tell him where to go.
I am sure Abraham told this to his friends and family. And I am certain they all tried to stop this nonsense. This was utter foolishness in their sight.
How could Abraham do such a thing? The answer is found in Hebrews 11:10: “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” When Abraham saw that eternal city, he realized everything else was worth giving up for that – eternity. By faith Abraham obeyed God. While his contemporaries lived for the world, Abraham saw something dearer than all this.
Then think about Moses. Why did he want to give up his throne, power and luxury in Pharaoh’s household? He too was walking away not for comparable security or comfort, but actually to suffer for the Lord. Surely many thought he was mad. But Moses was able to see beyond the material things around him.
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27, emphasis mine).
Fix Your Eyes on Eternity
Now, look around you. What do you see? Home, cars, clothes, businesses, antiques, jewelry? Go ahead and make a list of everything you have.
None of these things will last. Soon it will all be gone. As Saint Peter writes,
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10-11).
So, what must we do? We must see eternity. We also must look closely and see where our hearts are. Do we see any of the world’s riches or other material things around the throne of God in eternity? No. But we do see multitudes—men and women that no man can number (see Revelation 7:9).
This is the “pearl of great price.” Let the Holy Spirit show you how to live so that you too can truly be called a child of Abraham. Ask the Lord to help you live like Moses and the host of others who have gone before us in the faith.
Remember, people from every nation and kindred are still waiting to find out how they can approach the throne of God. You and I must see that vision of eternity and live our lives accordingly. Jesus died for us that we may live. Let us live for others that they too may hear that He died for them. All inconveniences and sacrifices—”light afflictions,” as the Apostle Paul would say—are nothing compared to what we shall be:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon