Temporal concerns have a seductive, powerful pull on virtually every human being. And if we say we’ve got our this-worldly desires under control, almost any objective person could probably look at the way we spend our time and see that we don’t.
If God chooses to be patient with those who’ve wronged us, punishing them less than they deserve, shouldn’t we be grateful for that? And besides, we may not even have been wronged. As the Lord sees things, our enemies may have a better case than we do.
After eternity has begun, it will be too late to begin acquiring a taste for the things that make God glad. Now is the time to do that. Now is the time to modify our likes and our dislikes — so that what we like most of all is to rejoice at the joy of our Father.
When we turn to God, faithfully obeying the gospel, what we’re seeking salvation from is the wreckage of our own sinful hearts and lives. And the wonder of the gospel is that God can do this. He can rebuild a heart that we have wrecked.
As Christians, the new delight we can have in God is the real thing. It’s what we were made for. It’s all we’ve ever dreamed of and then some. And the main thing about it is that it centers on God Himself. He, in the end, is all we really desire.
In any contest between the head and the heart, the heart will almost always win. Our loves are powerful things; they direct our actions almost irresistibly. So we must constantly work on our desires and diminish those loves that lead us away from God.
We need to see sin for what it is: a worshiping of the wrong god. Not many of us would want to be known as idolaters, but that’s what it comes down to when, at the devil’s suggestion, we exchange God, our hearts’ true desire, for anything else at all.
When we speak of “hard times,” we need to be careful. For all the hardship we face when we suffer a shortage of life’s necessities, we face an even greater challenge when we suffer a surplus. If we’re not very careful, our character will weaken in times of affluence.
Do we really want our hearts to be adjusted to God’s holiness or not? If we do, there is a price to be paid and a discipline to be submitted to. We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom. There is no other entrance, no easier entrance.
It is a foolish waste of time to always be looking for shortcuts. Today is how we get to tomorrow! And if today is difficult, as it often will be in this world, we ought to do more than tolerate it. We ought to taste it deeply and give thanks for it.