Holding all things lightly
1 John 2:15-17
“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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. “ KJV
It’s easy to get attached to things, places and positions, isn’t it? We love our comforts. We love the familiar. We get used to the security that our jobs bring. We feel safe in the homes we own. We come to expect a certain standard of living. We have our own ideas of where we want to live, what we want to do, what makes us happy.
And we fight; we work hard to keep these things. We do whatever is necessary to achieve our hopes and dreams. Whole lifetimes are spent in pursuit of such things. The more we come to rely on these things, the more we have worked for it, the more we have sought it – the harder they become to let go, to do without. Things have a way of owning us.
There is nothing wrong in wanting good things in life and God does not grudge us these things. He does, however, want us to put these things into context, to have a proper perspective between our material needs and our spiritual priorities.
The message is clear enough: the world, and the things of this world, are passing away… they are transitory, temporary. The things of the spirit, on the other hand, will endure forever. How sad it would be then if we invested the better part of our life’s efforts, our thoughts, our passions, our dreams into that which is passing away at the expense of that which will endure for all eternity.
Of course, we rarely set out to make that kind of choice but eternity seems far away while the demands of this life are so pressing and urgent. And so we take hold of the immediate at the expense of the eternal. We tell ourselves that we’ll get down to eternal things when we have the time, when our situation changes. And the months soon turn to years and suddenly eternity is upon us. The things of this world that we invested so much time and effort to take hold of, suddenly, don’t seem to be as pleasing or as important as we once thought…and the full folly of our choices becomes clear to us – a life wasted on temporary things at the expense of the eternal.
A wise friend once advised me to “hold all things lightly” so that if they are taken away from us, for whatever reason, we are not distraught or destroyed. We love the good life but we can live with hardship and difficulty. We hope for gain but we know how to suffer the loss of all things. We enjoy good things but we can still rejoice in the time of famine. We look for joy but we are able to endure tears. And we are able to do this because Christ is sufficient for us.
We hold all things lightly save for Jesus Christ our Savior; Him we cling to with all our strength.
And so we are able to let go of things, positions, places, as the Lord wills, for we know that in Christ we are taking hold of eternal things. As Jim Elliot, the missionary who gave his life in the service of God, once wrote: “He is no fool if he gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”