Sometimes something I know I struggle with at times and probably a lot of others do is the temptation to live in the now. I write the things I do to my own encouragement, and hopefully to that of others as well.
The World Lives in the Now
Today more than ever before we live in the world of instant gratification. So many things that used to require periods of waiting are now available at the click of a button. In some ways this can be a blessing and even very advantageous. In others, maybe it isn’t, and regardless of all the various beneficial ways all of this new technology influences us, one of its side effects is tending to foster an expectation for getting things as soon as I want them, not waiting around. The average attention span is shrinking significantly each year that goes by. Something to consider. And this is building up to what I really want to discuss in today’s post, which is escaping now mentality. What do I mean by that? I mean expecting instant gratification in our lives, especially when it comes to more important things – wanting to get what I want when I desire it. As people, when we write to someone, we want to hear back now. When we are sick or in pain, we want health now. When we are in trials and tribulations, we want deliverance now. We have questions, we want answers now. We want to escape our problems now. The grass is always greener on the other side to us. I say this to myself just as much as to anyone else.
Perhaps even more dangerous, though along the same current: living for the moment. Not looking further ahead and orienting our decisions around their long-term implications. It’s a common mindset in our world today. Living for now goes hand in hand with the desire for instant gratification. But should these be mentalities that we entertain as well?
You may have heard sayings like “just live it up” or “you only live once.” Those could probably be the distilled version of the following quotes from two godless men:
So, that’s the world. Now I probably need to clear something up. Some may be thinking, “But Jesus taught us to ‘take no thought for the morrow.’ So isn’t that what we’re supposed to do, live as if there were none, as Einstein says?” That may make you think at first glace the last quote at least was biblical. Well, they are on two different pages. In its context, Christ was talking about worrying about having our needs met and looking and trusting that God would provide for those needs. He wasn’t telling us not to think about how we ought to live our lives to His glory, or to be slothful in the work we have to do, or not work at all. That would contradict many other Scriptures. But the men in those quotes above are not talking about that – about trusting the Lord to provide for us. They are talking about living a lifestyle that does not take heavenly things into consideration and doing as you please, as though there are no consequences for doing so. Not worrying about God providing our needs is not the same thing as living as if there were no tomorrow at all. There are consequences for how we live today that affect tomorrow as well as our lot in the world to come.
What about impulsive decision making? There is certainly a time and a place to think and act quickly, for example if someone is hurt and needs help. Seizing the situation and intervening without hesitation is not inherently bad, and in some cases is essential. If you see an oven mitt catch fire on a stove, lack of an impulsive decision could be very dangerous. That is not the kind of situation I’m talking about today. I’m talking about day to day, how we live our Christian lives, how we make decisions that impact our walk with God. Some of these may be little decisions. I truly believe how you deal with little things will influence how you deal with greater ones.
Why Shouldn’t We Live for the Now?
I believe for us Christians, the Bible teaches a very different value system than the world. And it is very dangerous for us to adopt that contrary mentality, one that discourages patience and lures us to shortcuts for pleasure and happiness. We Americans live in one of the most prosperous places in the world, where there are pleasures, conveniences and opportunities afforded like no other. It can be very tempting. It can be very tempting to embrace the things we could have now, if we forfeit future hopes of glory, if we turn our back on the truth and what we know is right. But it will be a sorry deal. It is a thought pattern that leads to many sins. That is why it is essential that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We Christians have a very different expectation of hope.
The Word of God teaches that short-sighted living is due to spiritual blindness:
“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)
What things? The things laid out in verse 5, not the least of which is patience. The whole world lieth in wickedness, and the minds thereof are blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:5) who is the one pushing the live for the now agenda on the souls of men. Therefore we Christians ought to look to ourselves, that we walk not according to the course of this world.
1. For the Judgment to Come
And the reason the world lives this way is very plain to see. The world rejects the truth of the Bible regarding what happens after death. To them, this life is all they have to live for; “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” (1 Corinthians 15:32). How sad, to think all they have is this brief moment with eternal nothing afterwards, and sadder still that the truth is that it isn’t the end after they die – they have an eternity in hell awaiting their careless, unconverted life.
And this is precisely why the world will look at Christians living for the Lord like they are nuts. In their minds, we’re total fools. We won’t take the opportunities of sin or pleasures that they would snatch up in a heartbeat. We miss out on gaining so much, in their eyes. It doesn’t make sense to them.
“Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:4, 5)
That’s okay. Be content to be counted “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10). They think we are backwards, but at the last day they will give an account and then it will be revealed who was going in the wrong direction, unless God peradventure grant them repentance.
We Christians will all stand before God someday to give account of our deeds done in the flesh, whether they be good or bad, whether they be self-serving or God-serving.
2. For the Time is Short
The devil is the one who is the greatest marketing agent behind the living for the now mentality. He knoweth that he hath but a short time (Rev 12:12), as also do all they that dwell on the earth.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)
His goal is to lead as many souls as he can to destruction. The devil and them that serve him are going to soon face the due reward of their deeds, “whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:3). It is just around the bend.
The philosophy of living for the now perverts a truth into a way off the narrow path: it acknowledges that life is short, (while at the same time failing to recognize that’s exactly why we should NOT live for the now), encouraging people to live every moment as though it would last forever, pursuing after and reveling in pleasure, with that objective comprising the apex of their existence. Rather, because life is short and judgment is just around the bend, we should live for God, and for eternity.
“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
It is a sign of the last days to see men chasing the vanity of temporal pleasure at the expense of their souls:
“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” (2 Timothy 3:4)
3. Seeing as this World is not our Home
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)
We are going home, sister, to be with the Lord forever! It is only a short while and then we will be free from this world, the corruptions and sorrows of our flesh, and the temptations of the devil. Hallelujah! This world is a sinking ship, but we are being baled out. Why should we live for the things we cannot keep, things that are here and gone, things that will not follow us to the next life? Our home is on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death. Bless God, he has even given things now that are not of this world; eternal things that are not only now, but endure forever, to carry us through until we get to our lasting habitation, the house of God, and to God Himself.
“LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.” (Psalm 26:8-10)
“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. (Psalm 71:3)
We seek the tabernacles of the Lord of hosts! “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for” the pleasures of this life? the now? “the living God.” (Psalm 84:1, 2). Hence why we are told to lay up treasures in heaven, that our heart may be there also (Matthew 6:21).
We are pilgrims. We are leaving Egypt behind us and are on our journey to Canaan. There is our everlasting resting place, where we shall have quiet rest from all our enemies and afflictions (Isaiah 32:18).
And I might add, that not only are our habitations in heaven, but our earthly conversation ought to be as well, as Christ teaches us to abide in Him. God is our habitation now and forever. To some degree, we do not have to wait until we die to be home, when our home is Christ. When we live totally abiding in Him, when our life purposes are wholly given to eternal spiritual things, the transition between here and then will be so much smoother.
4. To the Forsaking of Sin
“Now mentality” tends to carnality – selfishness, pride, sinful indulgences and passions, lust, dullness and deadness to spiritual things, hardness and callousness toward good, inclinations to malice and wickedness, loss of discernment, blindness and a worldly mindset. It stifles the fruitful virtues that a Christian ought to bring forth by the power of God to His glory by disregarding their pursuit for fleeting happiness.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
What is it to be crucified with Christ?
“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)
What do they that “live for the now” actually live for? It is actually their own selves – what feels good to their flesh to do by fulfilling their own lusts, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. SELF and SIN are the gods of this world. Yet Christ asks us to deny ourselves (Mark 8:34).
The servants of now are the servants of sin.
“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34)
The world tells us that living for the now is living a life of freedom. It is actually the opposite. Living for the now makes us servants of sin.
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)
5. To the Fostering of Virtue
If our time is so much spent living for the now, we may find ourselves without time to cultivate those good works for necessary uses (Titus 3:14). Our thoughts are so focused on temporal things that it crowds out thoughts of God, Christ, virtue, righteousness, faith, and many other vital things. We can come to the end of our lives and realize all we had was a handful of sand falling through our fingers, with nothing left of lasting value to show for it. I pray the Lord keep me from such an end, an end of a life spent on vanity and foolishness, not the furthering of the kingdom of God.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16)
We see this pattern in the Bible, of foolishness and carnality contrasted with wisdom and spiritual-mindedness. And God tells us that it is wisdom to redeem the time, which is to use the time we have wisely, buying it back from vanity, taking careful heed to how we walk; not willy-nilly, not flopping around through life, but always with an eye to the end of things. It has been said that time is the most valuable currency. Man can make more of many things, but man cannot add one day to his life past the time God has given him. It should stop and make us ask ourselves how we are using our time. Are we a time spendthrift? are we a squanderer of the precious talent, burying it in the earth through careless decisions? God has given us all this moment called life; how will we use it? I ask these things of myself. Living for the now undermines how precious the time is we are given in this life. It is an abuse of that wonderful gift God gives us. Once it is spent, it can never be recovered. There is a fearful permanency of how we spend our time that should cause us to stop and think about how we are living.
As Christians, we are told to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear. To live for the now is to live without the fear of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Therefore they that would forsake it are foolish! We are to eschew now mentality that we may walk in the fear of the Lord, bringing for fruit unto holiness, without which no man may see the Lord (Hebrews 12:4). We won’t attain to the spiritual heights we are called to pursue. We won’t finish the work we are given to do of our heavenly Father. Now mentality deals a blow to spiritual fruit in the life of the believer. A short but true saying is “patience is a virtue.” But now mentality is opposed to patience. So if patience is a virtue, what does that make now mentality?
6. That the Soul may find Fulfillment
There is no fulfillment in living for the now. The things this world would give us can never satisfy the soul like the Lord can. They are only toys, playthings that amuse us for a while, but always eventually result in desiring something else. The Lord provides meat which perisheth not, wine and milk without money and without price, fountains of living water to quench the thirsty soul.
Even a king, though he have riches in abundance, lands, pleasures of all sorts at his fingertips, and more than heart could wish, though he have these things, if he have not Christ and the good things of Him, he is in poverty. Solomon relates this to us in Ecclesiastes. He gathered to himself all earthly good he could think of, yet all was vanity and vexation of spirit in the end. He could not find true peace or joy in what the world could afford.
7. In order that God be Glorified
Knowing that we are redeemed, we ought to live for our King. We are bought with a price. We are not our own to do what we want to do. We are no longer to walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened. And what other better description is there of living for the now, than living in the vanity of one’s mind, with a darkened understanding, blinded to the good things of God?
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Is God being glorified when we put living for pleasure before doing His will? What if God’s will for us to do is not pleasant? What if it causes us to be uncomfortable? God sometimes asked great things of His people in time past up until now. Many times these things did not tend to their physical comfort, to say the least. The temptations the martyrs of Jesus faced – and still face – can help put our mode of thought in perspective. Is it a great thing if we should deny ourselves some trivial pleasure, when others have denied themselves of their liberty, their possessions, their families, their homes, and even their own blood, that Christ and His cause be brought the honour due thereunto? What is that sin or weight in our lives that God would have us to forfeit that is so great as what the saints in time past have forfeited, with an eye to heaven and eternal glory, and the name of their God? Something to ponder.
Some Godly & Ungodly Examples
We need to have a long-term life vision oriented around lasting heavenly things. God gave us examples in the Bible of men who are set forth to edify us and keep us focused on the right path.
“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:11)
And this patience is needful:
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)
(Are you noticing the pattern? The reason for patience is receiving the promise at the last, that we fall not short of it. There is a reward for them that sow in tears (Psalm 126:5))
Abraham did not live for the now. He had a long-term vision. He knew the things of this life were dust and nothing to be accounted of. He knew the city he was in was but a vapour, an illusion, if you will, but God’s was everlasting. Even so we ought to seek first the kingdom of God.
“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)
Was the godly man Moses, the meekest man on earth in his day, who talked with God as a man with his friend, of the company of them that “lived for the now?”
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:24-27)
No doubt this was written for our encouragement to seek better things, though they be the lowly things of following Christ, rather than the highest things this life has to offer of the world. Moses, for all we know, could have been the next Pharaoh. He could have reigned over the kingdom and had so much in the way of earthly riches and privileges. Yet he gave it all up. He esteemed it a light thing of little value. It is said of Moses that he was faithful in all his house (Numbers 12:7). His decision to forsake Egypt and cleave to the people of God was by faith, through patience, and enabled him to continue in faithfulness through patience afterwards.
Joseph was imprisoned for not living for the now. He refused the seductions of Potipher’s wife and was wrongfully sent to jail. He gave up what he could have had in his position as ruler over all his master’s house, had he surrendered to the will of the flesh and disobey God.
David was faithful as he endured the persecutions of Saul time and again. David had opportunity after opportunity to put an end to that once and for all by killing the relentlessly cruel king. But the fear of God kept him from putting forth his hand to hurt the Lord’s anointed. He chose to keep suffering and waiting even when he could have had an out, because of better things that would come if he patiently obeyed God. If he got rid of Saul when he had the chance, he could have been treated as an honourable man with comforts of the flesh and mind for conquering Goliath, instead of hiding in caves day and night and running for his life. David is often remembered for his sin, but David, while not perfect, was a virtuous man, even a man after God’s own heart. And God honoured David for his willingness to be patient and wait on God’s timing to dispose of Saul as God saw fit (1 Samuel 26:10).
Job was a man who endured many trials of long continuance, all without cursing the Lord. How did he endure? How did he not stumble and fail his maker? He had patience. In the end, he was blessed greatly for it, therefore he is counted happy (James 5:11).
Christ Himself is set forth as the pinnacle example of patience, self-denial and holding out for better things:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4)
“For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:3, 4)
The scriptures give us patience. The promises of God give us patience. And as a result of that, we have hope. More on the relationship between patience and hope later.
It can be tempting to give up too soon. We are in a marathon, not a sprint. That is part of the challenge. It isn’t short. We’re in it for the long haul.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
This world is only temporary. Our life is gone in a blink. That may seem to contradict what I said before about being in it for the long haul. But while we are here it just seems much longer than it is in the big picture.
The flesh wants to live for the now. Our bodies do not care about years down the road. They want to eat that second or third piece of cake. They want to sleep in until noon. They certainly do not want to exercise. Just getting out of bed can be a battle sometimes. That is where the runner takes charge to discipline his body to make it do what he knows is necessary to win the race. How can the runner ever win the race if he lives for the now, if he doesn’t look to the wonderful prize at the end of all his trials and disciplines? He will never win the prize if he has that mentality. He will eat junk food and be a couch potato and let cobwebs grow on his running shoes. He won’t push himself when everything in his body is weary and opposed to it. And he’ll never win.
The motions of sin in us are all shortsighted. Our flesh wants to tone out any thoughts of consequences for doing what we want to do now and hates the thought of letting go and self-denial, diving in with both hands. But how can we live for Christ and His “well done” if we live for the now and do what we feel like doing? We can’t. We can’t serve two masters. We can’t be a soldier for Christ and not fight against His enemies. We’ll never make it to the end of the race. The fearful thing is there are many that will strive that will not win. These will be of them who sooner or later decide to live for the now, though they at one time run well until they were hindered (Galatians 5:7). It is very dangerous to be of their number. Wherefore we are to come out from among them and run with PATIENCE the race that is set before us. The opposite of and the secret to escaping now mentality is faith and patience.
They that are fruitful for the Lord make use of this virtue of patience:
“But they on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, have heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)
Patience is not something I naturally have a lot of on any account. If you’re like me, we need to look to the Lord for this, and study to grow therein. What is patience? Patience often is simply just waiting. It’s holding out without giving in. It’s grasping beyond ourselves and our circumstances, looking to God and His timing for our lives. It’s standing fast without yielding to what our flesh wants or what the world would pressure us to do, firm unto the end. Patience is taking up one’s cross and willingly denying oneself. Patience has a preserving influence on us as we journey through this life.
“In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
This would imply that the lack of patience results in the losing of the soul, which is a very precious thing. But patience keeps it from making shipwreck.
“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
The best things are yet to come for the godly. They sow in tears in this life, but they shall reap in joy. It is interesting that patience here is contrasted with pride. It is prideful to live in the now, to be hasty and take matters into your own hands. It is prideful to jump the gun and not wait for God’s will and timing, to try to control things how you want them to be. It is prideful to walk after the flesh and mind the things of the flesh (Romans 8:5). The flesh-mind only considers doing what feels good now. The Spirit-mind has set its sight on higher things and despises that which the flesh-mind esteems. Them that are prideful place more weight on their own abilities to make decisions of themselves rather than trusting in God’s wisdom.
We have been given some positive examples of them who were patient. The Word also gives us negative ones.
- It was for want of patience that Samson met his humiliation at the hands of Delilah. He withstood her for a time, but at last he caved.
- Esau wanted patience. He lived for the now. He would not wait, he would not be contented with the hope of what he could have if he held out. Yet how bitterly he regretted his choices, even to the point of tears, but there was no turning back.
- Demas forsook Paul, having loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10).
Use & Application
How do we get patience?
Patience comes from God, not from something in ourselves. We can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and just get more patient by trying harder. It is a fruit of the spirit.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” (Colossians 1:10, 11)
Tribulation worketh patience (Romans 5:3). Tribulations and hard times are outside of our control and force us to look to God to endure. They bring us to our knees. They test our faith, to see of what sort it is. The trying of our faith worketh patience (James 1:3). Hence patience is wrought, and patience also works, which work is perfect and in turn works perfection (James 1:4). This perfection is even to grow up into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). In other words, patience makes us more like Christ, because Christ Himself was and is and always will be perfectly patient.
Again, Romans 15:4 connects the truth and promises contained in God’s Word to patience and hope.
I think it is also interesting that “comfort” and “consolation” are connected to patience as well (verse 4 & 5). Even in all our trials there is comfort with patience. Joyfulness and giving thanks are signs of patience. Contentment and peace are interwoven with patience as well.
There are many things of the world that would tempt us to forfeit patience, as the love of riches in 1 Timothy 6:10. Yet in the next verse the text says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things;” What things? Even such things as would cause us to become discontent (verses 5-10) and fall to lusting. “and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, PATIENCE, meekness.” Are we actively pursuing patience? It is a question I ask myself as well.
Sowing & Reaping
That is the fearful thing about living for the now that the flesh, the world and the devil would have us who would follow the motions of sin in us, to ignore, which is really the elephant in the room: consequences for our actions. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh, by acting on impatience and carnal desires, shall of the flesh reap corruption. (Galatians 6:8) The good news is the previous verse applies to both the carnal sower and the spiritual sower.
“And let us be not weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
This is one of those verses that encourages us to press on. We are in the race. God, Christ, saints, angels, heaven and glory all await us at the end of our race, if we endure. Don’t faint! Don’t give up! Don’t grow weary! Keep going, child of God, you’re almost there, it isn’t long yet. The last portion of a race, to the tired runner, may be only a short distance, maybe just a few yards. But to him it seems miles long. He trembles, he sweats, he groans, he thirsts, he is in agony. The passing of time seems imperceptible. Yet he presses on with all that he has, with every faculty of his being, though it seems impossible, though it seems he will never get there, all that he might obtain. If he faints, if he grows too weary to continue, if he gives up and falls down to the will of his flesh, he loses all that he may have, and all the ground he had gained, and everything he worked so hard to achieve through his labour amounts to nothing. But those words “we shall reap,” we shall reap is the blessed promise that should keep us holding out through all the sorrow, no matter how endless it seems, because it is not endless. It has an end. But what shall our end be? If we faint not, we shall reap. We are so much closer than we think and feel. What is the secret of the runner, why he would never stop? He has his eye on the prize, no matter how trying the circumstances are. We Christians look unto Jesus, our prize (again, Hebrews 12:2). What if someone should hold out to the runner a couch and say “Turn aside here?” Does the marathon-winner listen? Do they say to themselves, “Just for a moment, and then I’ll get back in the race.” Why not? Because he knows that if he caves, even for what he thinks will be a moment, he will lose the chance of winning the race. Therefore we are cautioned against letting any man beguile us of our reward by not holding the head, Christ (Colossians 2:18).
Them that sow the field know it will be many months before they will receive the reward of all their labours. They toil and sweat in the heat day after day. They break their back tending their fields. It is not easy. In our country’s urbanized areas many may not identify with actually growing your own food over the course of a year and the difficulties, hardships and level of work and dedication required. Even in most rural places we have technology that greatly reduces the level of manual work involved. But if you’ve ever grown your own food or lived on a farm, you probably can identify with the sweat and tears and patience required to take you from planting to harvest. If you haven’t grown your own food even in some small respect, I’d encourage you to try it if you can, it will give you a newfound appreciation for these verses and you’ll learn something firsthand about patience. Besides the benefits for your health, many life lessons of the Bible are taught to us through seemingly simple rural things, especially when you get to experience it firsthand in real life. Or get outside and visit a small farm during growing season and see how it’s done.
But how – how do we not grow weary, with so much against us? Patience keeps us from growing weary.
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7, 8)
To be patient is to stablish your heart. Stablish your heart in what? The promises of the Word of God, the belief in these will keep you grounded and anchored.
Them that are patient have the promise of preservation:
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:10, 11)
The Lord Jesus Himself tells us to hold fast what we have been given. Grab onto it tight! Buy the truth and sell it not, no matter how much money is offered you, no matter what earthly gain you may get by doing so (Proverbs 23:23). We are on a rocky road, Christians, and the devil would jostle us off the wagon. He would see us make spiritual shipwreck, and howls on us. He follows us as a dog biting at our heels, if perhaps he may cause us to stumble so we may not arise again. The devil would offer us the whole world if we would but forfeit our souls (Matthew 16:26). He wants to do a deal. He has a thousand wares he’d trade us for our salvation, if we would but accept it. He has something for every man. But the devil is a deadly bargainer. He will win at the last, if we meet him on his ground. Though it cost us everything in life, hold fast. Though it cost us home, friends, reputation, business, lands, health, safety, pleasures or enjoyments, there is something more precious than all of that that we are to hold to. Lose all – forfeit all – but not the soul, and Christ who saves it!
One of God’s final pleas to us to hold fast is in remembering the torments that will come upon those that give in and give up to the devil at the end. They have their season, but it ends shortly and in perpetual bitterness.
“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:11, 12)
O, dear sister, when you are tempted, when the devil whispers in your ear to sin, or to sell Christ, or to turn from off the narrow path, I pray you will heed the instructions and the warnings of the Bible. I pray you would be found faithful, as it is required in us as a steward of God’s grace (1 Corinthians 4:3).