The Evangelist Dwight L. Moody shared this story:
An inquirer once asked a student what three things he most wanted, and he said, “Give me books, health, and quiet.” He asked a miser and he cried, “Money, money, money.” He asked a pauper, and he said faintly, “Bread, bread, bread.” The drunkard called loudly for strong drink. He turned to the multitude around him and he heard in a confused cry, “Wealth, fame, pleasure!” Then he asked a poor man who had long been an earnest Christian. He replied that all his wants and wishes were met in Christ. He spoke seriously and explained: “I greatly desire three things: First, that I may be found IN Christ (Philippians 3:9); secondly, that I may be LIKE Christ (Phil. 3:10-11); and thirdly, that I may be WITH Christ (Phil. 1:23).
The poor man was probably the richest of all those who answered not, of course, from a material sense but spiritual. In terms of true desire, all the others thought about was self-gratification through worldly gain. What the poor man wanted was more of a lasting nature but the rest of the respondents only looked at the things they wanted from a temporary situation.
Speaking of the poor man, when the Apostle Paul wrote his instructions to his associate, Timothy, he said in First Timothy 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
Riches, or anything else in this world, are “uncertain.” That is, they are very apt to be lost, stolen, or destroyed in due time. Things we treasure the most are often taken away when we least expect it. The fact is, whatever we gain in this world will not last forever. Like it has been said, you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. You can’t take it with you.
The only thing of lasting value is the treasure we store in heaven, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The things we ought to treasure the most are based on permanent value. Our desire comes from heavenly principles that come from God’s standards of living. They never change. No one can come in to take those things away—things like truth, honesty, respect, humility, love, faith, and the like. Any thing we so desire that is not founded upon those values will not lead to lasting happiness.
This gets us back to what Paul told Timothy in Philippians. Like the poor man, one thing we desire the most is to found IN Christ. Faith plays an essential role in such desire. Without faith we cannot please God and if we cannot please God, our lives will remain unrewarded (Hebrews 11:6). From the time we enter into Christ through faith, repentance of our sins, and baptism, we are able to choose the things that are best for us for Christ will be in us to help us through the Spirit.
Next is our desire to be LIKE Christ. Paul spoke of knowing Christ. To know Christ is to be like him. Like the chorus says, “Me desire to be like Jesus, My desire to be like him. His Spirit fill me, His love o’erwhelm me. In deed and word, to be like him.” Right now, we are walking the earth in our present mortal bodies going through the ups and downs of life one day at a time. While living for him, we experience what Paul spoke of: “the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death.” (See also 2 Timothy 2:11-13.)
At the same time, we keep our eyes on the Day when all that will change. That will be the time when Jesus will come to resurrect all those who’ve fallen asleep in Christ over all the past ages and raise them to immortality. Afterwards, all those believers who remain and are still alive will also be changed instantly to immortality and so shall they all be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). This is what Paul was talking about in Philippians 3:10-11 as he referred to the resurrection. John also speaks of this in First John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
Thirdly, another thing we desire the most is “to depart and be with Christ,” just as Paul testified in Philippians 1:23. These words are in the same context of the resurrection which Paul spoke of in chapter 3 — that is, the time when Jesus appears. The things of this life can bring us happiness such as being with church friends and loved ones. The Apostle Paul loved the Christian brethren and truly enjoyed their company. He may have been closer to them than any of his own relatives. He, no doubt, had a big hand in bringing most of them to know the Lord and this is one important thing that was near and dear to him.
But as rewarding as all this was to him, he kept his eyes on the prize that would come at the end of his journey, when he will arise with all the faithful to meet Jesus coming in power and glory. To depart and meet Christ in the air at his coming was one of the most exciting things he had in which to look forward. For then, he will know that his labor of ministering to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and all the sacrifices he had made for Christ in his own mortal life, will not be in vain. For his whole desire was to be in that Day when all those who are IN Christ will be LIKE Christ, clothed with immortality, and then be WITH Christ, ruling and reigning with Him as he establishes God’s Kingdom on the earth.
The poor man in Moody’s story was also moved by the same words of the Apostle Paul. Though he apparently didn’t have very many things of the worldly kind, the man seemed to have it all together when it came to the things he wanted the most. And we will too if Jesus is the One we desire the most in our lives. http://youtu.be/obi5ZGujiuU
Good News to YOU!