Friday, January 14, 2022

Cheap Substitutes


Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”


To die without Jesus Christ is to bear the wrath of God for our many sins and spend eternity in Hell. But, to live without Christ is to not know true love, joy, peace and contentment in life. This statement from Paul should be engraved like an intaglio upon the heart of every Christian. However, there are many cheap substitutes (idols and other false gods) that clamor for our attention that we must eschew (steer clear of). 


To live is not pleasure. “For me to live is pleasure,” cry a whole host of voices today. Hedonism is the guiding belief that the flesh desire of pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good and goal in life. For surely the Bible says that sin has its pleasure for a season—then come the consequences. Is pleasure you love?


To live is not money. There are others who would replace Christ with money, saying “For me to live is making, taking and having lots of money.” They spend most of their waking hours, energy, and thoughts, trying to gain money. But to what ultimate end? 

Luke 16:13 explains, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Is money your love. 


To live is not fame. Others would say: “For me to live is fame.” They give their whole lives to its accomplishment; popularity man’s praise, prestige. Perhaps they rise to the top of the ladder, but where are they then? They find themselves saying, “Is this all there is?” How many realize that the ladder they have sold their soul to climb is leaning on the wrong building? Is fame your love? 


2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.“ 


BUT CHRIST - To live for Him is the secret of life; life to the full. The Apostle Paul goes on to say, “...and to die is gain”, because to have Jesus is heaven. Consider the other substitutes: For me to live is pleasure / wealth / fame/etc., and to die is an unutterable tragedy; it is the loss of all I spent my whole life working for. You can’t take it with you.


1 John 2:15-16 tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” How sad it is that so many do not find until they are at the very brink of eternity that they have spent their lives foolishly. No substitute will do.


Think about Titus 3:3-7 “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”


Lord of wisdom and power, give me strength for today to not accept cheap substitutes. Allow me to experience the true riches found in You. Help me to be eternally grateful for Your sacrifice for me. When I come to my own death, it shall be my eternal gain and happiness. Amen

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