God Doesn’t Always Settle Accounts in October
God Doesn’t Always Settle Accounts in October
I thought we might end our studies of Ecclesiastes by answering definitively one of the vexing questions brought up in that book: Does it pay to serve God?
As “The Preacher” has observed, there isn’t an obvious correlation between suffering and skepticism, or prosperity and faith. Christians suffer, even the honest and dedicated ones. Job pointed out how sudden scourges like tsunamis and earthquakes sweep away “the guiltless and the wicked” at the same time (9:22-24). Asaph admitted that he almost lost his faith because “I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3).
Christians not only fall victim to “time and chance,” but also have the added burden of persecution. The life of a Christian is rarely charmed, so that he can say, “look what a pile of treasure I have gained as a result of being faithful to God!” But even though faith doesn’t often translate to earthly prosperity, there are some wonderful advantages that Christians can count on:
While a Christian may not escape physical suffering as a result of his faith, he looks forward to an eternal weight of glory. A day of reckoning is coming, when all wrongs will be put right, and all righteousness rewarded.
Remember the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). While many desire to enjoy the circumstances of the rich man on earth, who would desire his latter and more permanent end? Not me! I’ll take a lifetime of suffering, persecution, loss, and sacrifice in exchange for an eternity of heaven, thank you very much!
The story is told of a wheat farmer who hated the Lord. He made sure, as obnoxiously as possible, that everyone knew he didn’t believe in God. Soon, he figured out another way to make his point—he began noisily plowing his field on Sunday morning, kicking up a cloud of dust that could be seen for miles around. As he rode the tractor, he pointed his finger and laughed at the church people who passed by on their way to worship.
The October harvest came, and the wheat farmer had the finest crop he had ever had. In fact, it was obviously the best in the entire county, and he looked forward to showing it off at the county fair. When the harvest was complete, he chided his neighboring farmers, saying, “Faith in God must not mean much if a man like me, who plows on Sunday, can prosper.”
One gentle old farmer spoke up, “God doesn’t always settle his accounts in October.”
A Christian’s life will in fact be better in many ways, since he does not suffer as many consequences of his own sins. God gives rules to make us like Him, to share in His holiness. Not to kill our joy, but to protect us from harm. There is plenty of playground
available; the fence is there to keep the children from getting run over in the street. God’s commandments are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) and are “for our good” (Deut. 10:13).
Life may not be perfect as a faithful Christian, but at least one usually will avoid spectacular difficulties like unplanned pregnancies, broken homes, webs of lies that come crashing down, burdens of guilt that are hard to bear, the scourge of drugs, and the confusion of pornography. Solomon testifies, “the way of the treacherous is hard” (Prov. 13:15).
A Christian is lavishly blessed with “every spiritual blessing,” which is even better than physical blessings. In Ephesians 1, Paul enumerates adoption into the family of God, redemption through His blood, knowledge of His will, a waiting inheritance, and the Spirit’s seal; and these things are just for starters! Thus, David could happily say, “Better is the little of the righteous, than the abundance of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16).
God promises that He, through His providential will and mighty power, will not allow a Christian to deal with more than he can handle.
God says, in the words of an inspired promise, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Cor. 10:13). That includes the temptation to give up on God due to suffering and doubt. While Satan besets us with illness and weakness, God assures us that we can endure, and encourages us to look forward to a new heavens and a new earth.
God promises that a Christian’s struggles are not pointless but make Him useful to the Master and mindful of heaven. Suffering for God is never wasted. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). “Your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).