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LOOKING FOR A SOUND INVESTMENT?
by Philip Owen

            People are taken in every day by outrageous advertising claims, squandering their hard-earned money on some foolish promise that will never come to fruition.  We have all heard the siren call of sure-thing investment opportunities promising great returns with little or no risk.  Even if we have not believed the assertions, they may have given us pause to consider the “what-if’s” of such an opportunity.  One reason there are so many con artists in the world is that it is part of our nature to be enticed even by the most incredible offers.  In short, they work.  Day after day, people fall for the scam and swallow the bait.  Given that reality, we ought to be amazed that so few people believe the claims made by God.  Many who will swallow any kind of error, choke on the smallest truth.  Of course, the fact is that the promises of God are neither false nor untrue, but they can be appropriated only by faith.  One wonders how many Christians have appropriated this magnificent promise of gain given by God:  “Godliness is profitable for all things” (I Tim. 4:8b).

            Were we to substitute almost any other word for the subject of that sentence—say, exercise,  or dieting, or study, or education, or meditation “is profitable for all things”—the apostle Paul’s phone would be ringing off the hook, lines would be forming in front of his house, and “Sign me up” would greet him at every venue.  But this promise, absolutely true and infinitely rich, meets with almost absolute silence and complete stillness.  How it must grieve the Lord, not that the world does not believe Him because they have no faculty to do so, but that so few of those He has redeemed believe Him.

            Meditate for a moment on the scope of the promise.  The Lord assures us that there is something that is “profitable” (“helpful,” “serviceable,” “advantageous”).  What could possibly be unappealing about a promise from God that would profit us, help us, serve us, advantage us?  This is pure gold!  There is no downside here, no disclaimer, no “let-the-buyer-beware.”  No hook lies hidden in this bait; every bite is pure delectable nourishment.  What you see is what you get:  pure unadulterated profit.  As if that weren’t enough, the Lord promises that the profitability is “for all things.”  And so that we understand the absolute universality of this promise, Paul adds that “it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (v. 8c).  “You can’t take it with you” must be the disclaimer following even the best of natural promises.  All other gain is gone at the grave, lasting, at best, during time.  But not so, this promise from God.  Not only does it enrich the promise holder during time, but it also accrues interest throughout eternity!  There is no end to its growth:  it increases, and increases, and increases.  Every area of worthwhile human endeavor and experience are enriched by those who appropriate this promise.

            Consider, then, the means of obtaining the promise.   The promise is not for a select few.  No secret societies must be discovered and joined.  No social status is required.  There is no IQ test to pass.  The poor, the homely, and the inept are not excluded.  Whatever human criterion might exclude someone from obtaining another sort of privilege is irrelevant here.  All (believers) may qualify simply by becoming godly, by becoming that for which they have been saved and that for which they are empowered by the indwelling Spirit of God to be:  godly.  Ah, there’s the catch:  who can be like God?  But the term simply means “piety” (Strong), “piety toward God” (Thayer).  Genuine reverence for God that manifests itself in believing and obeying God’s Word is godliness.  It is an expression of the character of Christ.  Who has not wished to emulate some great personality?  Well, the believer has been both called and empowered to emulate Christ.  And when we do so, God is well pleased, pouring out His eternal blessings upon us.  As Paul writes later in the same epistle:  “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (6:6). 

Will you invest in this opportunity?  It is a sound investment underwritten by God.  And although He requires it of us (it is the objective for which we have been redeemed) and has every right to demand it of us without recompense, such is His bounteous, gracious nature, that He pours rich eternal blessings on all who fulfill the purpose for which they have been redeemed.  How wonderful.                     

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