Stinging WordsHow have you experienced emotional or spiritual captivity?
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Monday September 2
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” declared Samuel Johnson, “for there is in London all that life can afford.” Dr. Johnson lived in the 18th century in—surprise!— England, so his view of London may have been a touch biased. But at the time, London was the apex of all this world had to offer. No other city had more diversions and distractions, and Britain’s industry, trade, and global reach seemed limitless.
We can’t truly know how satisfied Samuel Johnson was with all that he found in London. But in the words of the apostle Paul we can see the contrast between a life focused only on this world and one fixed on heaven. He seemingly had “lost” the world. Stuck in prison, Paul couldn’t enjoy the things we would typically call “the good life.” Death was a distinct possibility.
“To me,” he said, “living means living for Christ, and dying is even better” (Philippians 1:21). How could that be? Paul loved Jesus so much that he could hardly wait to be with Him. His words ring with excitement and passion. “But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ” (v.22). “I’m torn between two desires” (v.23). Paul went on to state that his motivation for staying on earth was to serve Jesus and put the needs of others before his own (v.24).
It’s easy for us to cling tenaciously to wrong priorities. We can become so preoccupied with the “good” things this life has to offer that we miss the “far better” riches found in Christ. But Jesus says to us, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36). —Tim Gustafson
I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die (v.20).
What does James 4:13-17 reveal about our plans for life?
What makes you feel most alive? How can your deepest desires only be fulfilled in Jesus?
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