A Brief Meditation for the Month

March 2021

Matthew Henry, the Puritan, well known for his popular commentary on the bible, once wrote: “Whatever we have of this world in our hands, our care must be to keep it out of our hearts, lest it come between us and Christ.” Such a statement testifies to the value he placed upon Christ and his relationship to him. However, it also indicates the danger he felt of becoming too attached to the material things of this world, even good things from God’s hand. Walking with God, like Noah or Enoch, was more prized than worldly prosperity.

For the spiritually minded believer, the prospect of a home in heaven, to experience the full enjoyment of Christ in a glorified state of sinless perfection, is of more worth than all the treasures and pleasures this world can offer. It was such an outlook that enabled Moses to choose affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin: “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Hebrews 11:25–26.

Although it has been true, and in different parts of the world it is still the case, that Christians are among the poorer classes in society, God does enable others to prosper materially. In developed countries such as Australia, Christians generally have the same opportunities as others to succeed materially and advance socially. Christians, therefore, if they prosper, can be tempted to imagine that such prosperity is equivalent to spiritual progress. In addition, they may be tempted to concentrate on worldly success while neglecting their spiritual needs. The Lord Jesus reminds us through his response to the tempter in the wilderness, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. This was the difficult lesson that the Israelites had to learn as they trekked through the wilderness towards the promised land. Had the wilderness been a pleasant place to stay in, the Israelites might have been tempted to forget the promised land “flowing with milk and honey” and settle down content where they were. However, God kept the Hebrew pilgrims dependent upon him to supply all their needs so that they could persevere to the end of the journey. Before the Israelites entered the promised land, Moses reminded them of God’s care for them, saying, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord shall man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3.

Since the Lord’s people are described as “strangers and pilgrims” in this present world (1Peter 2:11; Hebrews 11:13), they need to be watchful against the temptation to forget who they are and where they are going. There are occasions when God, who cares for his people, withholds or takes away those things from them that he knows will either distract them or hinder their spiritual progress. Sometimes he does this to test their faith in him. Even when this is the case, the trusting child of God can testify by faith: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17–18. This is spiritual mindedness, with godly contentment.

G. G. Hutton.