Wealth and knowledge are no guarantee to a problem-free life.
God knows what is best for man and so it is He who should be followed.
THERE REALLY IS NO WAY we can elude problems. At every turn and bend, we are bound to meet one. Truly so for our earthly journey is never a smooth one. Ours is not a worry-free world. And we cannot afford to stop on track seeing a problem looming in the distance. We have to move forward and risk an encounter as there could be no other way out. Making a detour or backtracking, as the case may be, is not a guarantee that we won’t be meeting the same problem, or another one for that matter, elsewhere. We may even find ourselves in a tighter situation.
So when a problem comes along, no matter how trivial it may be, there is no recourse but to work out a solution. Yes, for there is no way that the problem is getting away from us unless it has been dealt with accordingly. And problems, when not solved, have a way of recurring, or haunting people, as others would put it, with even more devastating effects. So the earlier we are done with one, the better. Successfully getting through a dilemma, we can heave a sigh of relief. And with a shrug of the shoulders we could then whistle, “Whew! That was close.”
The best thing to do when you have a problem is to meet it head-on. But how? “Well, if you have money, you can buy yourself out!” says the rich. “Having a brilliant mind would be to your advantage,” says the learned. In reality, both have found themselves many times over in a fix. Many rich people, and educated ones at that, have, in fact, a hard time figuring out how they can possibly come out of a gripping situation unscathed or without any scratch. Simply stated: wealth and knowledge are no guarantee to a problem-free life. They are not the best moorings in life.
What man should understand
“The Lord says: ‘The wise should not boast of their wisdom, nor the strong of their strength, nor the rich of their wealth. If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me, because my love is constant, and I do what is just and right. These are the things that please me. I, the Lord, have spoken.’” (Jer. 9:23-24 Good News Bible)
Basing on the verse cited, man ought to recognize God as his best stronghold—a fortress—in life. Rightfully so for having created the humankind, God knows what’s best for them. Corollary to that, man should not boast of any of his accomplishments, for, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless” (Eccles. 2:22-23 New International Version).
Then comes the stark realization:
“You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn’t had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn’t right!” (Eccles. 2:21 GNB)
The root cause
But why has man fallen into a problem-filled existence? God says, “Listen, earth! As punishment for all their schemes I am bringing ruin on these people, because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words” (Jer. 6:19 GNB).
Worse, “The wicked tell God to leave them alone; they don’t want to know his will for their lives” (Job 21:14 GNB).
Not a bit remorseful, there are those who “think there is no need to serve God nor any advantage in praying to him” (Job 21:15 GNB).
There lies the cause of man’s problematic existence: he has rejected God’s words and there are those who even deny His very existence. Don’t atheists downrightly question God’s very existence? No wonder, God’s verdict is: “I am bringing ruin on these people because they have rejected my teaching and have not obeyed my words.”
But are atheists the only ones guilty of such offense? How about those who are in organized religions? Those who profess belief in God? How flawed have many become? In his second letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul made this prophetic pronouncement to his co-worker in the Church, thus:
“The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends.” (II Tim. 4:3-4 GNB)
Wasn’t Apostle Paul sounding off a warning? People may be in organized religions, but more as a matter of convenience as they listen only to that which they are itching to hear. Aren’t there preachers who advocate so convenient a concept of salvation—that of just having faith in Christ? That Church membership is no longer necessary? That there is no need to listen to a messenger?
Whom to listen to
On the contrary, man must listen to the one whom God sends to deliver His message. The Bible attests that, “The one whom God has sent speaks God’s words, because God gives him the fullness of his Spirit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything in his power. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not have life, but will remain under God’s punishment” (John 3:34-36 GNB).
Obedience to God’s commandments spells eternal life; the opposite of that is remaining under God’s punishment. And that is the gravest problem the human race is confronted with. Of course no one in his right mind would want to be punished: the desire for safety, hence, the need for salvation is but natural. But how can man be saved? Christ said:
“I am the door; anyone who comes into the fold through me will be safe.” (John 10:9 Revised English Bible)
To be saved, one needs Christ and must come into the fold. The fold, which is also the flock, is none other than the Church Of Christ (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). Men therefore ought to join or enter the Church Of Christ to be saved. Having done so, they shall have met head-on and triumphed over man’s gravest problem which is the perdition of one’s soul.
Keeping the commandments of God
But does becoming a member of the Church Of Christ mean a problem-free existence? No. The world we live in is not worry-free. Nonetheless, Apostle John’s testimony of the saved is truly inspiring, thus:
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’.” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Rev. 14:12-13 New King James Version)
Indeed, the members of the Church Of Christ—those who followed God’s commandment to listen to His Son—have everything to be grateful about. They are in a trouble-laden world all right, but not for long. Apostle John went on to say:
“Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’” (Rev. 14:14-15 NKJV)
But as the end of the world is yet to come, it behooves and would augur well for servants of God to firmly hold on to His commandments, thus:
“I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12 NIV)
Like Job of old, one should be able to say with firm resolve, thus:
“My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:11, 10 NIV)
The value of God’s laws
God’s people, from olden times and in these last days, truly understand the worth of God’s laws, thus:
“The law of the Lord is perfect; it gives new strength. The commands of the Lord are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it. The laws of the Lord are right, and those who obey them are happy. The commands of the Lord are just and give understanding to the mind.” (Ps. 19:7-8 GNB)
Because of this, “God says, ‘I will save those who love me and will protect those who acknowledge me as Lord’” (Ps. 91:14 GNB).
God assures them furthermore, thus:
“When they call to me, I will answer them; when they are in trouble, I will be with them. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with long life; I will save them.” (Ps. 91:15-16 GNB)
On the other hand, the stubborn shall reap God’s wrath, thus:
“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as he proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen. … But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known, …’” (Zech. 7:11-14 NKJV)
These biblical pronouncements speak for themselves and need no further elaboration.
Winning the prize
God’s faithful servants should not risk incurring God’s displeasure and wrath. Instead, they should do their best to gain His blessings—to win the prize, as what Apostle Paul terms it, thus:
“Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” (Phil. 3:13-14 GNB)
Apostle Paul talked of a life above—one that is truly to be desired, thus:
“We, however, are citizens of heaven, and we eagerly wait for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body, using that power by which he is able to bring all things under his rule.” (Phil. 3:20-21 GNB)
Salvation and eternal life are much to gain. Members of the Church Of Christ, God’s people in these last days, cannot risk losing them. Like the Apostle Paul, with much resolve they also say:
“We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” (II Cor. 4:8-9 GNB)
Still following the learned apostle’s example, the faithful members of the Church declare, thus, “For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever” (II Cor. 4:16-18 GNB).
Assured of God’s promise, they thus go about their daily lives treasuring His words.
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.