Lord, let us find the hidden treasure, sell all, and buy it. Amen.
Text: Philippians 3:17–21
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
The unfortunate people, whom the Apostle cannot speak of without weeping, “the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction,” are none other than those “who set their mind on earthly things.” What a serious matter! Is it so dangerous to set one’s mind on earthly things? Yes, that’s what the Word of the Lord says. If earthly things are your treasure, the dearest and best thing to your heart, then the belly is your god, you are “enemies of the cross of Christ” and heading for destruction. How terrible: to be an enemy of the precious cross of the Savior! You don’t want to know His saving blood. In your heart you have no desire for a Savior who died on the cross and thus reconciled you to God. And you flee from the path of sorrow beside Him. You don’t want to deny yourself and walk in the footsteps of His poverty and suffering. Earthly riches, power, and honor seem better to you than His love and they seem worth more than the benefits of His death and resurrection. Let everyone examine himself, lest we be among such people, for they are “many.” The Apostle says they are many, and Jesus says the same thing: “Many go in by the broad path that leads to destruction” (Mat 7:13).
As people in the crowded streets of a big city divide themselves in two opposite directions, so are people on earth. The children of the world rush after earthly things and end up being lost. God’s people walk the way of Christ’s cross toward heaven.
Brothers and sisters, don’t let the pressure of the worldly crowd draw you back into death with them. Don’t let friendship or enmity, not threats or promises, not the Pharisees’ deceit nor the people’s “hosanna” and “crucify Him,” nor the spirit of selfish freedom or laziness, deceive you and draw your eyes away from heaven! The way is narrow. But just keep close to the disciples, following Jesus, always following Him in obedience and self-denial, and you shall reach the end. Our portion is not the passing treasures of the world. “Our citizenship is in heaven!” Up then! Homeward, following all the saints! “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Joh 12:25).
Lord Jesus, teach us to know the grace and power of Your cross. Grant us the desire to walk in the footsteps of Your suffering, and grant us faithfulness to the end. Amen.
Come, brothers, wander on with joy,
For shorter grows the way,
The hour that frees us from the flesh
Draws nearer day by day.
A little truth and love,
A little courage yet,
More free from earth, more apt to set
Your hopes on things above.
It will not last for very long,
A little farther roam;
It will not last much longer now
Ere we shall reach our home;
There shall we ever rest,
There with our Father dwell,
With all the saints who served Him well,
There truly, deeply blest.
Friend of our dear and perfect choice,
Thou joy of all that live,
Being that know’st not chance or change,
What courage dost Thou give!
All beauty, Lord, we see,
All bliss and life and love,
In Him in whom we live and move,
And we are glad in Thee.
Tersteegen: Come, brethren, let us hasten on! L 252:5-7 LHy 451:5-7 tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: Ak, Fader, lad dit Ord, din Aand (ELH 215); alternate hymn: Who knows when death ELH 483:3