The Better Thing

The world has always come with a plethora of options. The key to making life count resides in choosing “the better thing” out of the myriad possibilities.

We like to think that modern life is a hectic rush and if we could just go back in time things would be different, but the world has always been like the city wide carnival presented in Pilgrim’s Progress called Vanity Fair. Enticements reach out to us from every direction! Carnival barkers and pretty women. Alluring dazzling prizes to play for! It’s pretty tempting. Why should I be the only one missing out on all the world has to offer?

Pilgrim’s Progress was written by John Bunyan in 1678. It’s the allegorical story of a man named “Christian” who is making his way through this world on his way to the “Celestial City”. He awakens one day to realize his life has not been what it should be in the sight of God. He’s burdened by that. He’s fallen short, he’s sinned. His eyes are open to the fact that one day he will have to stand before a holy God. He sees that if something’s not done he will certainly have to give an account to God when he dies and face judgment.

The thought of coming face to face with God someday scares the daylights out of Christian! He decides it’s time for “something better” and he begins to see his life from the perspective of eternity. Christian decides to choose “the better thing”.

But something else also happens- In his epiphany Christian becomes not only self aware, but aware of the predicament of those around him. The rest of the world is in the same boat he’s in. Surely he should warn them, right? How could he not say something to let other people know that their world too is under judgment and is passing away? But Christian soon discovers that although his eyes are open to this newfound truth, most of the people around Christian remain numb and blind to his newly discovered reality. They love Vanity Fair and have no desire to part with it. It saddens Christian to learn that most of the world has no interest at all in joining him on his journey, but now that he’s found “the better thing” he sets his mind and heart to grab ahold of it and press forward. To Christian, Vanity Fair has become somewhat of a distraction now- something to entice him to linger, something that will hinder his journey to the Celestial City and get his eyes off his destination.

As Christians we like to pretend that the world has no sway over us. We like to think we’re immune to it’s influence and can’t be persuaded by it’s pull. Nothing could be further from the truth! For this reason we’re always encouraged by God’s Word to look higher, to choose the better thing. In fact, the whole Christian life revolves around the idea that God has “something better” for us in Jesus and it’s worth letting go of the world’s enticements to pursue and attain what God has for us.

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” -Hebrews 11:24

You think it was easy for Moses to pass up the position, power and riches that were basically guaranteed for him? The bible says he chose ill-treatment rather than embrace the pleasures of sin! How many people would actually do that when given the choice? How many of us would turn down the money? How many of us would reject the pedestal and walk away from the power? How many would say no to the world’s pleasures and palaces and trade it all in to wander around through the desert for 40 years? Here’s how Wikipedia sums up the life of Moses:

“After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.”

How would you like that on your tombstone? “The man who almost made it, the man who came close.” But that’s the way the world sees it- The guy wandered around the desert for 40 years and never made his goal. Massive fail! What a waste!

That’s right, he didn’t even get to go into the Promised Land! He traded it all in for a bunch of sand!

Oh, and the reward.

 

Let’s not forget about the reward.

 

Moses was looking ahead to the reward! He had the world if he wanted it, and he said, “No, I’ll take the reward!” He choose “the better thing”. Don’t think it didn’t cost him. He suffered for it. He could have been living in the lap of luxury with young maidens dancing around feeding him grapes all day by the river Nile. He could have had it all. Instead he was basically run out of the country and had to face trial after difficult trial. And that sand! So much sand! And hot sun. And people whining and complaining about him all day. Choosing “the better thing” was no picnic for Moses, but like so many others who have chosen “something better” Moses found his “something better” was not to be attained while in this world.

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” -Hebrews 11:39-40

As we can see through the example of Moses, and as we read in this verse, it takes a lot of faith to let go of the dazzling thing that’s right in front of you and trade it all in for that which is unseen and not of this world. Moses had the faith and guts to do just that. Do you think he has any regrets for choosing “the better thing”? The centuries have passed but Moses has long since passed into eternity!

For Moses, choosing “the better thing” required incredible faith. He had a very tangible world of wealth and possibilities that surrounded him. The opulence of Egypt filled his eyes! Even so, his heart was crying out for “something better”. He took the leap! And he kept taking them over and over again walking by faith and not by sight. He got all the way to within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo. And what did Moses find when he got there? God had “something better”. Something better than what he could see as he looked out across the landscape of this earth. Something beyond his wildest dreams. God brought Moses beyond the confines of time and swept him up into eternity! God’s promise was bigger than Moses could imagine!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” -Ephesians 3:20

And so Moses found himself in the City of God.

God’s promise remains to all who will take it by faith. We must decide by faith in God alone to choose His “something better.”