This morning, in my time with the Lord, He again impressed upon me certain aspects of Christian living that are not so obvious at first reading, in terms of the truths and applications, yet they are so important for us to grasp and assimilate in our spiritual growth. In one sense, they are not new to many of us, but perhaps, meditating on them may be beneficial to ‘deepen’ our appreciation of these principles in our walk with God.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35).
Here are the words of the Lord. This saying seems paradoxical but Jesus is telling us that if we seek to save our earthly life, we will actually lose the life God intended for us; it is similar to the one who finds a treasure of great price and he is willing to sell all that he has to get hold of this precious treasure. The truth is clear; however, many are seeking to ‘build’ and ‘preserve’ their treasure and life on earth at the expense of their eternal life and the heavenly treasure God offers. This is not applicable only to non-believers – it is equally true for believers who fail to appreciate this truth clearly in their lives. Indeed, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?
Jesus also said that he who is least in the kingdom of God is the greatest. Also, the Lord stated: …”unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The world ‘caters’ for self-centredness, greatness, prestige – Jesus points to humility and meekness as virtues that are deemed great in God’s kingdom. Also, fruitfulness in God’s kingdom requires self-denial and the willingness to ‘die to self”. It is sad but true that even in the church, many clamour for self-promotion and ‘spiritual greatness’ (a fake greatness in the eyes of God) and ‘positions’ in the eyes of the world (even among christian leaders).
Looking at some ‘mysteries’ in christian life, the Bible teaches the truths about the ‘sovereignty of God’ as well as ‘human responsibility’. It is hard to reconcile these two truths; nevertheless, they are taught in Scripture and are true. If we fail to see both of them clearly, we may mistakenly think that if God is sovereign, we might as well leave everything to Him; after all, God is in complete control of every outcome, including our spiritual growth and lives. We then fail to realise that God expects us to ‘work out our lives with fear and trembling’ and that grace-driven effort, discipline and diligence, with enabling from the Holy Spirit, are required for spiritual growth and development. We see, in the Scripture, that ‘God sends Joseph to Egypt to prepare him to be next to Pharaoh’ and yet, at the same time, Joseph’s brothers ‘are guilty in doing him wrong out of envy and jealousy’ in selling him as a slave to Egypt. Sovereignty of God and human responsibility were operating at the same time.
In the same vein, God assures us of our assurance of salvation and our security in HIm and yet He warns us of the seriousness of apostasy and unfaithfulness. The reference to the olive tree in “Romans” indicates that the natural branches were broken off because of unbelief and we Gentiles are grafted in. Yet in the same passage, the Gentiles were warned that they too would be broken off if they do not continue in belief and faith, and it is possible for God to graft the natural branches (Jewish believers) back to the olive tree if they turn away from unbelief, and repent. Both ‘assurance’ of our salvation and serious warnings regarding ‘falling away’ are taught in Scripture. It is as if God does not want us to take for granted what He has done for us In His Son and be presumptuous. Also, He desires us to be assured that ‘He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).
There are many more paradoxes and ‘mysteries’ in Scripture. Let us ponder over them, meditate on them and ask the Holy Spirit to grant us illumination in understanding as well as in application for our lives.