Adapted from Randy Alcorn’s July 18, 2014 blog at: http://www.epm.org
Peter encouraged Christians to find joy by focusing not on the trial that will go on only “a little while” but on their heavenly inheritance that will never perish. As missionary martyr Jim Elliot put it, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Why put all our effort into that which has no lasting value? Why put all our hope into that which in the end will not matter?
God tells us, “We have a priceless inheritance; an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:4).
In times of suffering, we must remember what is awaiting us in eternity with Christ. Romans 8:18 says, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” II Corinthians 4:17 promises, “Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
Suppose I offer you $1,000 to spend today however you want. Not a bad deal. But suppose I give you a choice– you can either have that $1,000 today, or you can have $10 million if you’ll wait one year, and then $10 million more every year thereafter. What will you choose? Only a fool would take the $1,000 today.
A year might seem a long time to wait for the payoff. But after it passes, wouldn’t you be grateful you waited? Likewise, won’t we be far more grateful in Heaven that we chose to forego earthly treasures in order to enjoy forever the treasures we sent ahead?
This is delayed gratification. Soldiers, athletes, and farmers all know that long-term benefits justify short-term sacrifices (2 Timothy 2:3-6). The same principle applies to those who live in light of eternity. Only when we adopt an eternal perspective will we eagerly follow our Lord’s command to devote our brief lives on Earth to the pursuit of eternal treasure.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 — For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Peter 1:3-6 — Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
Romans 8:18 — I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Corinthians 2:9 — But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Father, help us to remember in the course of this day, when so much of our work and planning is intended for this life only, that we must also fix our eyes on the life yet to come. May that which we say, think and do reflect kingdom principles that store up treasures for us in our heavenly kingdom even while we serve here below. We anxiously await that day when we receive the crown of righteousness reserved for those who have fought the good fight, finished the race, remained true to the faith, and whose greatest longing is for the glorious appearing of Christ. Amen.