Read for This Week’s Study: Gen. 6:5–14, Heb. 11:8–13, 2 Cor. 4:18, Gen. 13:10–12, Gen. 32:22–31, Heb. 11:24–29.
The foundational passage for this week is Mark 8:36, 37, which reads, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
We could put alongside this the words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:19, 20, where he told his followers to lay up treasure in heaven where no moth or rust or thieves can destroy or steal it. And we might add the next verse, v. 21, where it says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
There are several things here to reflect upon. First is the fact that there is a link between a person’s heart and the way they spend their money. It is quite easy for people to spend their money on things that their hearts desire or are fascinated by. In fact, people readily spend lots of money, even money they do not have, on things their hearts desire. Watch what people spend their money on, and you will soon learn what their hearts are most focused upon.
But the reverse of this may also be true, that the place you spend your money may well become the thing your heart desires. In other words, there may well be a development of a love driven by what you do with your money. A good cause given to may find a significant place in a person’s heart over time.
The second thing we might reflect upon is the fact that we do well to remember that there is another world coming, an eternal world, the significance and grandeur of which far exceed anything on this earth. Putting energies and resources toward the new earth and its kingdom is a good thing to do because monies spent that way have an everlasting effect as opposed to a very transient effect. The catch here is that the coming kingdom is mostly unseen, so doing things to enhance it is a form of delaying gratification, the idea of investing now in anticipation of some future reward or benefit. Delaying gratification is a very unnatural thing for human beings to do! Furthermore, the agenda or ethos of the coming kingdom is usually very different from the agenda of our current world. Our world is often upside down to the kingdom of God.
With this in mind, it would be well to consider some of the people in the Bible who were future-kingdom oriented. Many of them are listed in Hebrews 11 as people of great faith. They were living by what God had promised so were caught between the known and the unknown. They were people whose fondest hopes and ambitions were linked to the coming kingdom while they lived in the present world. It should not escape us that the author of Hebrews, as the great faith chapter ends, runs out of names and pours accolades on many unnamed people, saying that the world was not worthy of their presence. Thinking about those people can serve to help encourage and sustain us in lives of faith. At the same time, is should not escape our attention that often the most admired people in this world are those who make significant sacrifices, who live selfless lives such as did Mother Teresa.
The official lesson guide points to several people of faith that we ought to consider:
- Noah, who found grace in the eyes of God.
- Abram, who became the father of the faithful.
- Jacob, who went from being a deceiver to being a man of faith
- Moses, who famously chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
Also mentioned by way of contrast is Lot whose decisions turned out to be disastrous for himself and his family.
Some questions to ponder:
- Why does it seem to be so hard for humans to retain an other-worldly focus?
- How can we deal with the warning Jesus gave about the deceitfulness of riches?