Yesterday I wrote an article that spoke of living as an exile in this world. So, I thought I’d follow that up with a related thought that God has been impressing upon me more and more as time passes. It seems that people are often allured by the things of this world, whether it be beauty, money, fame, intelligence, a fulfilling spouse, athleticism, materialism- clothes, cars, houses, boats, recreation- vacations, travel, alcohol, sex, good food, drugs, gambling, pornography, entertainment, community status, or even just being accepted or respected by others. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. People often live for very unusual things. Some of the things I’ve just mentioned are not sinful or harmful in and of themselves, but in excess, any of these things can cause some significant problems. And, above all, it must be noted, NONE of these things can make a person happy for a lifetime. This last line is really the point I’m driving at today. If you look to any of these things to find happiness in life, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. What does Scripture say about this?
1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Another text that reinforces this is Philippians 3:18-21 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
These 2 texts better illustrate what I’m trying to say than I ever could. Here is the sad thing for me, personally. I see so many Christian people who say that they live for Christ and that He is their all in all, but then when you see how they are invested in this world, it becomes apparent that they have been deceived into believing that these things bring them joy. Just pay attention to what really gets a person excited and you’ll see what they really live for.
The truth is that the world makes many promises but rarely ever delivers on them. Just watch TV commercials for about 5 minutes and you’ll see that advertisers know they’re marketing to a people by appealing to their discontentment. “Are you unhappy with X? Try this new product!” And then you’ll see the testimonials from people whose lives have been improved so dramatically because of the product. The truth is that we are dissatisfied with life. Why? We’re dissatisfied because we are believing the lie that these various things will help us find lasting happiness. And there is temporary pleasure to be found in these things, but they will leave you empty. That emptiness you feel will drive you to seek happiness in the same place. Only this time, you’ll have to have a little bit more. It’s a vicious cycle.
You will never find satisfaction living for the things of this world. And the truth is, you will never find happiness only using God as one thing among many that makes you happy. Yet, that is usually what He gets from us. When our minds are set on earthly things, we end up living as enemies of the cross. Oh, we may say we’re a friend of God, but our actions speak louder than our words, and the true joy of our lives betrays us when we interact with others. Our schedules speak loud and clear as well. It seems we’re more worried that our kids be the star of whatever thing they’re involved in than we are with their spiritual development. These things are very telling. If you live this way, do not be surprised if you look back with much regret some day. Only God is going to satisfy you at the deepest level and in any lasting way. Look to Him. “Come unto me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Rest for your soul can only be found in an ongoing, vibrant relationship with God through Jesus Christ, empowered by His Spirit.