Many people seek to live what has been called their "best life now." Many believe that wealth and success are the way to happiness. But does God want all His children to be wealthy, and does He tell us health, wealth and prosperity are the way to find happiness? More importantly, is your best life even possible now or is your best life in the world to come?
There is no doubt that the non-Christian lives his best life in the here and now because for those without Christ, the next life is one of no hope, no joy, no meaning, no satisfaction, and no relief from eternal suffering. According to the Bible, those who have rejected Jesus Christ will spend an eternity in "outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28 NIV). Therefore, seeking to enjoy their best life while they can is all they can do because the next life will be truly dreadful.
But how can Christians expect a world infected by sin to provide our best life now? The Scriptures describe life on this earth in no uncertain terms. "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7); "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12); "count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds" (James 1:2). The Lord never promised health, wealth, or success in this life. The idea that we can have our best life in a creation that groans in the "bondage to corruption" (Romans 8:20-23) is an impossible illusion. Such an idea encourages people to decide for themselves what will constitute their best lives and then blame or reject God when He doesn't deliver.
We have only to look at the lives of the Lord Jesus, the apostles, and the early Christian martyrs to know that the "best life now" philosophy is untrue. Jesus was never wealthy, and those who followed Him were mostly poor. He didn't even have a place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). Paul says, "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Paul was not living his best life on this earth. He wasn't looking for his best life now; he was waiting for his best life in the future (Philippians 1:21). Peter said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven" for all who are in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-4). Our lives on earth are filled with hope. The best is yet to come.
The suffering of the early Christian martyrs who were hanged, burned at the stake, beheaded, and boiled in oil for their faith and their faithfulness to Christ, were those who gladly suffered for the Savior they adored. Did they die these excruciating deaths because they were unaware that they could experience their best lives now—if only they pursued wealth and a healthy self-image? No, they patiently endured this life, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). The next life is where they finally found their best life, not this "mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes" (James 4:14).
For the Christian, life here, no matter how good it is, is nothing compared to the life that awaits us in heaven. The glories of heaven—eternal life, righteousness, joy, peace, perfection, God's presence, Christ's glorious companionship, rewards, and all else God has planned—is the Christian's heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5), and it will cause even the best life on earth to pale in comparison. Even the richest, most successful person on earth will eventually age, sicken, and die, and his wealth cannot prevent it. But Christians have hope in the knowledge that after death will come our best, and eternal, life.
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