Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
- Mark 10:28-31
“In the final account, it will be found that no person has been a loser through giving up anything for the Lord Jesus Christ, though he has his own method of deciding who will be first and who will be last.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, Excerpt from his sermons
Sometimes when we do comparative complaining, we think, as Job did, how evil prospers and we don’t. Malachi has a similar lament in Malachi 3:15. Spurgeon suggests this is not the case, at least in what matters.
C. S. Lewis wrote about how we will look back and see that our sinful life had nothing good about it, but our life with Jesus was filled with nothing but good. As we are living our lives, we know that there are good and bad times. Lewis is saying that through God’s filter, we will see the bad times as being a preparation toward becoming more like Jesus and the ‘fun’ in our sin life as being a total waste of time, regardless of the temporary feeling, with or without hang-over. Of course, Lewis is referring to us looking back at the end of our lives, not in the midst of tragedy and suffering.
In reference to how Jesus talks about leaving family, my wife and I have lived away from family for most of our lives. Our comparative complaining focuses on the lack of that support system and the sorrow of not seeing grandchildren on a regular basis. While we consciously decided to move away after getting out of the Army, our grandchildren being far away has become an extension of our sons wanting to live away from us. Like father, like sons, I suppose.
But honestly, there is a significant cost of not living near relatives. If your Dad owns a big farm, you can build a house on the property at pennies on the dollar compared to buying the land and then building. Family nearby means baby-sitting, usually. This lets young parents get out and have some sanity time, but it really comes in handy when both parents work, and a child gets sick. When our boys were living at home, we knew years with no vacation because we each used all our days taking care of sick children.
Oh, I invented the term “comparative complaining.” It is where you see someone else who speaks of God’s blessings that are showered upon His family, and you have none of that stuff. It sounds so horrible to admit that you covet what Jesus says in the Scripture above that you might have to give up to follow Him – only to receive back 100-fold. Yes, quite horrible, but …
Oh how I would love to be
In hot and sultry Tennessee
With a banjo and my grandson on my knee.
Ah, quite poetic, but there are two grandsons and a granddaughter in Tennessee. Add the banjo, and I need two more knees. And why a banjo? I can’t play it.
When two of our five grandchildren have graduated high school and the next is going to middle school in the fall, if we are to receive 100-fold in return, when? They are all getting older at the rate of 60 seconds every minute that we are here, and they are there.
“But lift up thine eyes to the good things of heaven, and thou shalt see that all these worldly things are nothing, they are utterly uncertain, yea, they are wearisome, because they are never possessed without care and fear. The happiness of man lieth not in the abundance of temporal things but a moderate portion sufficeth him. Our life upon the earth is verily wretchedness. The more a man desireth to be spiritual, the more bitter doth the present life become to him; because he the better understandeth and seeth the defects of human corruption.”
- Thomas á Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
á Kempis mentions care and fear when having abundance. We live in an unsecure world. “Stuff” needs protection. “Stuff” requires maintenance. “Stuff” requires time that could be spent getting closer to Jesus.
As for me, I trust God. I believe His promises. And I am patiently awaiting His revelation. But if I could get more than a moderate portion of something to suffice me, it would be more time with the grandchildren.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.