Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Investing in Your Future


I have shared that over the past several months, God has greatly blessed my wife and I financially in that we were able to pay off much debt.  I was thinking today on what else I could have done with that money.  We could have gone on another vacation.  We could have purchased some very nice things.  It would have made a very nice down payment on the brand new car of our choice.  Instead, it all went to pay off past debt.  That does not seem very exciting at all.  But then I thought of what would be different if I did choose to be irresponsible with my blessing.  I would still have a moderate credit score.  I would still be paying hundreds of dollars a month mostly to interest.  I would still wonder how I was ever going to be out of debt.  What I gave up in short term "joy", I gained so much more.  The same could be said for our lives on earth. 
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:19-20 NKJV
Treasures on earth never last.  Even if they somehow happen to last your whole life, that is but a blip when eternity looms on the horizon.  When I consider the debt I paid off compared to what I have, I realize just how true this is.  One card had remnants of a very expensive camera I do not even have anymore.  Another card had a computer I sold before I was even married, which was replaced by another.  Most of what I paid was interest, money paid for nothing except profit for the business that extended me the credit. When I think of all the hobbies, souvenirs on trips, useless items, or other things I just "had" to have at some point, I realize how much money I paid into nothing.  I realize what a waste it all was.  Sure they were fun for a time, but the debt they left on my life afterwards was not worth it. 

Such is the same with our earthly treasures when we get them forsaking the eternal treasures to come.  What good is a mansion now if you forsake an even greater mansion in eternity?  I am not at all saying we put our salvation in jeopardy when we squander God's provision on selfish gain, but we do sacrifice rewards.  The Bible is clear that some will be rewarded more than others.  When we use the money God has given us in service to others, God is building an account for us in Heaven.  God promises to repay what we give to the poor and I truly believe that payment will come in a glorious eternity.  Jesus would not have told us to lay ourselves treasures in heaven if we could not do so.  Jesus would not have warned us against earthly treasures if they did not come with danger.  Whatever excessive thing you think you "need" now will someday turn to junk and you will have no eternal reward for it.  Will it be worth it?  Even if it lasts your whole 80 or so years on earth, will it be worth it if it costs even greater treasures in the countless trillions of years in heaven?

This lesson goes beyond just material things.  This lesson also applies to how we spend our lives.  The Bible tells us that sin is fun, but that it is only fun for a season. God will not allow His children to relish in their sin just as a responsible earthly father will not sit idly back while his children do terrible things.  A good father will not provide comfort while his children live fallen lives.  That only feeds their bad behavior and can lead to great trouble.  This same premise is applicable to God who promises to chastise His children to correct bad or dangerous behavior.  We often challenge God on this issue and learn time and time again that God may allow us to sin, but He will not make it comfortable for us to do so.  I can attest to being under the hand of God and under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  That said, we need to consider if our sin is really worth it.  Do we choose to live wrongly knowing it will cost us eternally?  Do we partake is momentary "fun" while forsaking greater rewards in eternity?  Once again, I am not speaking of salvation.  I am only speaking of rewards in Heaven.  The Bible is clear that our works on earth will be evaluated and we will be rewarded on what remains. 

The point I am trying to make today is that we need to consider the future when deciding what to do in the present.  We need to evaluate if what we choose to do will add to our eternal rewards or take from them.  We need to consider if momentary selfish gain or unrighteous actions are worth eternal consequences.  When I was young, I never thought about the future.  The more credit I had, the more I saw it is what I could spend.  In those few years of irresponsibility that I thought were fun, I cost myself many years of poor credit and crushing debt.  I paid more than I should have for a car loan.  I eventually was approved for credit cards again, but my interests rates and other fees were through the roof.  Even then, I still did not learn my lesson.  I may have paid all of my bills, but I ran them up just the same to where all my cards were near their max.  When I look back, those one or two years of fun were not worth the many years of effort to erase their effects.  I still have some effects from that and will for quite some time.  I was a child and did not consider my future.  However, if you are reading this, you are more than likely not a child.  It is time us grown ups start acting grown up and make smart decisions with our time and our stuff.  Just as a smart worker invests in his or her retirement, we must invest in our eternal retirement in heaven. 

God has given us each a measure of time and talents.  God will evaluate us what we choose to do with what He allows us to have and our place in the kingdom will be determined by what we do with what God gives us.  Invest in the kingdom now and you will realize the return for all eternity.
For [the kingdom of heaven is] like a man traveling to a far country, [who] called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who [had received] two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' "His lord said to him, 'Well [done], good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well [done], good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 'And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, [there] you have [what is] yours.' But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give [it] to him who has ten talents.'  Matthew 25:14-28 NKJV

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