By Patrick Wyett
In the real estate world there are buyers and renters. I've been both; having bought a house and rented furnished and unfurnished apartments. Each comes with different levels of commitment and investment. Unless you're flipping houses, purchasing a home has a long-term feeling of security to it. It's your home. All your stuff's there, you decorate it to your taste, make modifications to suit your needs and settle in. Upkeep to the structure and grounds is your responsibility. It's all yours as long as you pay the mortgage and taxes.
Not so with renting. Renting has a temporary feel. The structure isn't yours nor will it ever be. You sign a lease for a specified amount of time. You're limited as to what modifications can be made, and really, you wouldn't want to invest in improvement of something you don't own and won't see a return on. You may or may not have up-keeping responsibilities. One day, you'll be moving again. Count on it.
There are similarities to the structure you live in, and the life you lead. As the title above asks: Your life, are you buying or renting?
The question can be interpreted in different ways -- so I'll narrow it to the application we need to examine. I say "we" because this article is for me as well (as is everything I write), through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Let's observe a limiting parameter of life.
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).
Life is temporary, yet a lot of people live their lives as if it will last forever (it won't), with rewards and consequences solely of their own making. They aren't. Undeterred by these realities, many invest heavily in life, making it as comfortable for themselves as they can, as pleasurable and self-seeking as they can afford. Sometimes even beyond what they can afford. Such people are buying into this life, this world, and all the glitter it has to offer.
There's a lot of glitter to dazzle the eye and tempt the soul. I tell you again, it's all temporary.
Are you a Christian? What's the meaning of your life? Is it the constant pursuit of entertainment and gratification? If it is, to whose glory is that? I'll answer this one: "To your own, not God's."
This earthly life is all about time. There's a definite start at your birth. And as of yet, (undetermined from our current perspective), a time and place of ending. Rest assured, it will end. How you spend your time is a good indication of if you're buying or renting this life and what you truly treasure.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
This directly contradicts the "Have your best life now" nonsense of worldly charlatans masquerading as Christians.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, left heaven and came to earth. He didn't come for a life of ease. He came to serve others, to help others and to die for our sins, not His-for He was sinless. As Christians, do we live a life of service helping others, emulating our Lord? Or do we serve ourselves? When we serve ourselves, we choose self over God. We choose sin.
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34).
Can we split our lives between sin and God?
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
In this context, mammon is money, the love of which the Bible tells us is the root of all kinds of evil. Place whatever sin you fancy in place of "mammon," it's all the same.
Don't buy the lie that apart from God, you're free. When living in sin, you're under satanic oppression and subject to demonic influences. Only One can break that oppression.
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him" (Acts 10:38).
When you buy into this worldly life, you indeed buy now and pay later. This concept is quite popular in the world of commerce. But this purchase isn't just a monetary transaction. In the vastness of eternity, you're buying into this temporary life at the cost of your immortal soul. To one so deceived, the terrible price isn't discerned until it's too late.
I've talked a lot about buying, what about renting?
Over the past several years I've moved many times, state to state and even overseas, from one rental to another. I found out that all those things that I thought I needed, I really didn't. For years, most of my stuff was in a storage locker. For four years I lived in the Middle East in a furnished apartment with very few of my personal possessions. You know what? I got along just fine.
You might think, that's a tough experience. No, I'm thankful for it. Why? Because when I was living in the home that I was buying, I was comfortable and complacent. The concept of a permanent earthly home is a part of this life; I was likewise comfortable in life too. I did my Sunday ritual at church and the rest of the week was mine to live as I pretty much pleased.
I was buying my home and buying this worldly life, the emphasis of which was serving the created, me, not the Creator. Oh, I professed the faith all right, I just didn't take the time to live it or really even fully understand it. You see, I was busy with other things that I wanted to do and accomplish. Sound familiar?
Nobody had told me any different. Now I'm telling you something different than what the world tells and shows you.
From all of my moves, I no longer have a sense of "home" anymore. I have loved ones and I have things, but no place feels like home. Not in this life. My possessions don't hold the value to me that they once did. Everything seems temporary. Praise God, my priorities have changed and continue to change. My home is in heaven. As for this life, I'm just renting.
I've witnessed people who've lost their homes and everything in it to fires and assorted natural disasters. They invested everything into that home; their lives, money, possessions and hearts. Many agonize that they've lost everything, including sentimental, irreplaceable items. It's a magnitude of loss only they can comprehend. Contrast that to a renter of a furnished apartment. They haven't lost everything, they've lost little by comparison. If they had renter's insurance, they might even come out ahead.
Sooner or later, this life that we're either buying or renting will be consumed by death or transformed by the return of the Messiah. Jesus is coming for those who cling to His promises, not this life or the things of it. He has mansions in heaven to fill.
With this assurance, is following Christ just words, a part of your life, or a way of life?
Jesus' disciples left everything they had, their homes, jobs and family to follow Him. Their faith was their life. Paul, too ,dedicated his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus. Their earthly rewards? Suffering, persecution, imprisonment, and all-save the apostle John, execution. Were these men and noted others throughout the Bible, those faithful to God's calling, were they buying into this life for their own ends or merely renting as they passed through and onto glory?
You might be thinking, I can't be a great person of faith like those men. I can't be a Billy Graham or the like. Really? Is there a limit to what God can accomplish through you? Actually there is. The limit is your commitment to Him. Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel, Peter and Paul were not men of extraordinary talent or ability, they were fallible humans of extraordinary faith! Their mighty accomplishments were by the power of our limitless God.
Read the "Faith Hall of Fame" in Hebrews chapter 11 for perspective. Faith, the condition of your heart toward God, is what you choose it to be. God calls the faithful to service.
I pause here to write on a related heart-breaking phenomena that I'm observing all too often nowadays. Self-professing Christians are accepting, even encouraging sin in the life of their loved ones. An unmarried sibling living with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a son or daughter engaged in a homosexual relationship. Or a parent choosing the same or different sin.
Brothers and sisters, why aren't we contending for their souls? You know the wages of sin is eternal death. Why are you accepting or coddling lifestyles and behaviors that you know God condemns? Don't you know, in doing so, you even condemn yourselves?
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).
When you defy God's commandments for the sake of not offending a loved one, you choose that loved one over the blood of Christ.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
Jesus' commandments span the entire length of the Bible. Jesus said:
"I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).
I know you love your family members and friends who are perishing in sin. You don't want to hurt them. Friend, they're hurting themselves. They're destroying themselves. If you, in love and truth, won't try and reach them, who will? They are worth your very best efforts. Pray for wisdom, fight for their souls.
Don't pretend the Bible doesn't say what it says, don't look the other way. Don't let them go to inescapable judgment with your "blessing" or silent consent. For they will be held accountable and you, too, will give an accounting on the matter.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
In 2013, wildfires were popping up in Colorado. When a fire would start and expand, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for those in the projected path of the fire. In one such instance, a friend of a couple living in a mandatory evacuation area called to warn the couple of the order. This couple had a nice home in a beautiful location. They were buyers.
The couple saw an orange glow in the distance and were packing to leave. Another call to the couple forty minutes later found them still at their house, packing to leave. Pops and the crackling of burning trees could be heard in the background.
The bodies of this couple were found in their burned out garage, next to their car, its doors open. They thought they had more time. They miscalculated. Nothing in that house was truly irreplaceable yet they lost their lives trying to save a few extra things. What lesson can be gleaned here?
"Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).
The fires of this world are spreading quickly. Embers are falling all around us. What's coming will destroy life as we know it and even life itself. Is your life so embedded in this world that you'll look back as Lot's wife did? Her heart was in Sodom and Gomorrah, as wicked as they were-even as they were being destroyed.
Are you buying this life, investing your heart, mind and soul into this present world? Or are you merely renting, biding your time in God's service until you're called to your true home?