It’s the eternal payoff that you really should bet your life on.
Just imagine winning a prize of hundreds of millions of dollars with your only investment having been a tiny piece of paper no larger than a book of stamps. The prospect of winning great wealth for just a few bucks, as pathetically remote as it is, often results in a frenzy of activity when the lottery jackpot shoots up—a frenzy that fuels itself. Especially huge numbers—like the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot of January 2016 and the $1.537 billion MegaMillions jackpot of October 2018—grab headlines as wishful thinkers endure long lines to purchase tickets, hoping to get in on “the poor man’s tax,” no matter how infinitesimal the odds of winning the lottery really are. Then, when someone does finally win, acrimony, controversy, loss of privacy—and sometimes even the loss of the millions themselves—will result.
It is unlikely that the “lucky” winners will experience happiness or even lasting prosperity from their winnings. Solomon, the wise King of Israel, wrote in the book of Proverbs, “Wealth gained by vanity will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase” (Proverbs 13:11, Modern English Version).
The subject of whether or not we should gamble is answered pretty clearly in the negative in the Bible, but that is not the subject or purpose of this commentary.
The larger question for all of us is, what should we prize? What should we seek as we put forth our time, our talent, and our effort in our daily lives? What should we value highly and pursue tenaciously as we live our lives, whether we are working or enjoying recreation? There is timeless biblical instruction and good counsel on this very important subject. As Jesus Christ walked the dusty roads of Judea and the surrounding area, He taught His disciples and any others who would listen to Him about this very subject. Then, as now, people were deeply concerned about food, clothing, and shelter, to the exclusion of thinking about spiritual, eternal things. So, Jesus made it plain to them what their priority should be when He taught to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He was making the point that it is very important to set right priorities in our lives and to pursue righteousness rather than riches. It is the same today.
Again, we find that the book of Proverbs is right on point with this instruction: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). True riches are not equated to money, but to God’s providence and peace of mind, even in the face of adversity.
The Apostle Paul had his priorities right when he wrote, near the end of his life, about the prize he had spent his life pursuing: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). Paul looked forward with great anticipation to receiving eternal life in the Kingdom of God. That is the ultimate prize to which all true Christians aspire.
While it may mean rearranging your priorities and making some changes in your lifestyle, with God’s help you can begin to pursue the biggest prize of all. You too can become a part of the “little flock” (Luke 12:32) that is doing the Work and eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus Christ to usher in His Kingdom, in which they will enjoy eternal life carrying out God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
To learn more about that plan, and about what it means for your life and the lives of your loved ones, request your free copies of Restoring Original Christianity and The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like? or read them online at TomorrowsWorld.org. They will give you valuable information to help you seek your prize.