“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV).
Christmas time is upon us once again. Homes across the city are decked out with lights, nativity scenes, inflatable Santas, and beautiful Christmas trees. If I listen closely, I can almost hear the echos of my promises to obey and be good in hopes of finding that certain special gift under the tree.
I wasn’t a bad kid, really. So being extra well-behaved wasn’t that much of a stretch. It has gotten me thinking about gifts and promises though.
As much as I enjoy the presents that make my life easier or facilitate my “hobby of the year,” I can’t help but think about another Gift. But this Gift, you see, didn’t arrive full of promises that our lives would be easier.
This Gift did come with promises for our lives, however. Promises of hardships and persecutions, along with the love and support we would need to see them through. Promises of a life of service, putting others before ourselves. Promises of being hated because of the Gift.
But this Gift, Jesus, came with far greater promises than these. Forgiveness of our sins. Meeting of our needs. Constant guidance and companionship. The power of the Holy Spirit to overcome and resist the power of sin, and share the love of Jesus with a lost world. And let’s not forget…eternal life.
While some of these promises don’t often make the brochure we get before we sign on, the rest of them render the former inconsequential. In the light of eternity, 70, 80, 100 years is but a blink of an eye. Jesus put it this way, “’When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:21-22 ESV).
It can be difficult for us to understand our eternal promises. We have no way to really grasp the concept of eternity. As a result, it becomes easy for us to focus on our human lifespan. And well we should, for it is here where we can impact the eternities of many other people who need Jesus. But we labor with an eye on eternity. We labor because of God’s great promises to us.
And that brings us full circle to today’s scripture. “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV).
In light of God’s promises to us, we should modify our motives and behaviors! We should “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14 ESV). We do these things because of God’s promises, and because of the sacrifices that He made for us.
When I was young, I’d do anything to get those wonderful presents. I’d even get along with my little sister! How much more should our lives be lived in service to, and worship of God, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17 ESV)?
Blessings on your day!