3 Ways to Predict (and Prevent) Total Loss
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Prov. 18:24, ESV)”
With all that scripture has to say about friendship, a picture is painted of how relationship is influence. Righteous friends draw each other toward righteousness and the wicked toward wickedness. But, you don’t need to be told that – it’s pretty obvious, right?
As we’ve talked lately about clutter, one of the places I’m encouraging many to search and clean up is the field of friendship. My immediate thought is “I need to be wise about those with whom I invest my time.” But, this is only the visible part of the problem. The invisible part is far more subtle and pernicious:
Who’s Your BFF?
Are you BFFs (“Best Friends Forever”) with the world? “The world” we’re talking about here is not the physical material that makes up the planet, rather what John derives in his gospel from the word “cosmos” – an ordered system of doctrine, thought, and worldview that is contrary to God’s agenda. Often, we get so caught up in peer pressure (or what grown ups call “keeping up with the Joneses”), and begin worshipping idols recognized by icon and not just by name:
Maybach… Acura… Apple… Starbucks… etc. Other times, it’s iconless things like status, prestige, etc., which go hand in hand with the icon bearers mentioned in the former.
How do you know who your friends are? Take a look at two tangible metrics and a dreaded intangible: your calendar, your bank account, and your worry. Out of 168 hours each week, how much of your time is spent “delighting yourself in the Lord” as Prov. 3 commands?
How much of your “discretionary time” is spent in the presence of God – on your boat, golf course, back porch, dinner table simply soaking in God, praising Him, thanking Him, and leaning your shoulder to His wheel? (Notice, I didn’t mention church attendance… That one’s a little too obvious and often more out of obligation than out of joy and gratitude.) Now, consider how much time you have invested in your “relationship” with stuff, completely disconnected from the Giver of all good things. There’s no equation for success here, just a chest X-ray to expose the dark, selfish places of our hearts, here.
When we look our check registers – what tale of friendship does it tell between us and the world? Are we investing in that which will last or that which we “can’t take with us”? Beware – the fire is coming:
“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Cor. 3:12-15)”
In other words, one day, face to face with Jesus, our lives will be reviewed and all that we “built” in this life will pass through the fire – our eternal reward will consist of only that which does not burn. Only that which had eternal value will survive. Are you building that which has eternal value or that which only lasts through the bookends of life and death on earth? Best friends with a world destined to burn is a loss very heavy to bear.
Moving on, we also have worries. I know, Jesus commanded us over and over again not to worry. But, ultimately, interest is a child, concern is a teen, and worry a wicked adult. So, what concerns do you have that are rapidly showing signs of facial hair? The things we worry about are clear indicators of where our hearts lie. To unclutter your heart from worry, take an inventory of all your interests and concerns and rate them 1 to 10, 1 being interest, 5 being concern, and 10 being outright worry. If an item on this list is a 6 or above and is a Godly concern, it should be easy to entrust it to God’s sovereignty and relinquish the drive in our hearts to control its outcome, thereby relieving stress and building on our friendship with God. Failure to do such an inventory often results in unchecked worries, showing a clear friendship with the world.
Help is often only a prayer away. When you look at these markers and hold them up to this scripture:
“…do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NASB)”
, a righteous heart will flee from those friendships that would put them at odds with their Creator. This, too, in addition to bible study, gathering with believers, etc., is a way to grow your relationship with God. We cannot serve God and money, God and ourselves, or God and the world. His mercy awaits when we repent and turn back to Him. Build only that which will survive the fire.
Happy inventory, happy building!