By Robert C. Oliver Contributing Columnist
March 7, 2014
The apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Colossi, told them to “seek those things which are above” (Col. 3:1). Do keep in mind that these people were already Christians. They had already been delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13); Yet, they were being given instructions concerning their priorities. Now, if the Christians of the first century needed direction concerning such things, how much more so the world around us. Maybe not world wide, but at least nation wide, the majority of mankind is materialistic in mind and action. Most are seeking to grab all that they can, to lay up upon this earth all the possessions they can accumulate. For that reason, most are not interested at all in learning and obeying God’s word. However, he who is seeking the material rather the spiritual, whether a child of God or not, is making a grave mistake. Let us consider why it is such a mistake.
In the very text that our title comes from, we read on to find listed a number of materialistic things that Paul says, “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6). Those things of the world will lead to eternal damnation. The apostle John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him…And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:15, 17). James tells us, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Our Lord Himself said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”(Matt. 6:19-21). The apostle Paul once told his Roman brethren that it was high time for them to awake out of sleep (Rom. 13:11) and it certainly is time for mankind to wake up to the truth about materialism.
All the material possessions that we can store up will ultimately be lost, for they are temporal. As was noticed before, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (I John 2:17). The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18). Jesus taught a parable on this very subject. He spoke of a man whose ground brought forth plentifully. The man determined to pull down his barns and build bigger ones to house all his goods and that he would say to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21). The apostle Paul told Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (I Tim. 6:6-7). When we die, all that we have, we will leave behind. The thing that will go on is our soul. And, Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Whatever materialist items that one seeks more than those things which are above is what they have exchanged their soul for. It would be interesting to hear someone tell what they were willing to exchange their soul for.
In the day of judgment, we will all be judged. The Hebrew writer said, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Paul told the Corinthian brethren, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). To the Romans Paul wrote, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Paul told those in Athens that God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). John wrote, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12). Now, how many passages can you find that says anything about being judged by how much you have been able to accumulate during this life? Since the answer is “none” it would benefit every one of us to be a bit more concerned about the then and there than the here and now.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: email@example.com.)