Earlier today I read a section from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress that caused me to pay closer attention to the way a Christians desire to enjoy God in heaven effects the way he views material gain. Let me frame the scene for you.
While Christian is on his way to Mount Zion (having left the City of Destruction), he stops by to visit the Interpreter. The Interpreter shows Christian multiple scenes depicting some aspect of the Christian life. In one scene Christian is shown two young boys, Passion and Patience, seated in a little room. Passion demands to have all of his “best things” now, while Patience, heeding their Governors desires, is content to wait to receive his “best things” at a later time. A bag of treasure is brought to Passion, who rejoiced in it until he had “lavished [it] all away, and had nothing left him but rags.”
The Interpreted then goes on to expound the meaning of the two boys:
“These two lads are figures: Passion, of the men of this world; and Patience, of the men of that which is to come; for, as here thou seest, Passion will have all now… [in] this world; so are the men of this world, they must have all their good things now, they cannot stay till… the next world, for their portion of good. That proverb, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,’ is of more authority with them than are all the Divine testimonies of the good of the world to come. But as thou sawest that he had quickly lavished all away, and had presently left him nothing but rags; so will it be with all such men at the end of this world.
“Then said Christian, Now I see that Patience has the best wisdom, and that upon many accounts. First, Because he stays for the best things. Second, And also because he will have the glory of his, when the other has nothing but rags.
To this the Interpreter responds, “Nay, you mad add another, to wit, the glory of the next world will never wear out; but these are suddenly gone… ‘For the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal.'”
After reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder why so many Christians – myself included – are not characterized by a present contentment that is rooted in knowing that our “best things” will be had in the world to come. In other words, why do we seek to store up treasure for ourselves both here on earth, and in heaven? When, according to Jesus (Matt. 6:19-20), these two actions are mutually exclusive.
photo: hire sandy