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Principles from Plutarch – (5) Pursuing Eternal Things

In my last message I wrote about hard work and frugality. This week I am going to write about pursuing eternal things.

“Other arts, whose end it is to acquire riches or honor, are likely enough to wither and decay in poor and undistinguished towns; but virtue, like a strong and durable plant, may take root and thrive in any place where it can lay hold of an ingenuous nature, and a mind that is industrious.”

Love. Virtue. Faith. Hope. Courage. No man, no misfortune can take away these things from the man that holds them. On the other hand titles, reputations, and wealth can be, and often are, lost. Christ repeatedly told His followers that they would pay a price for following Him. This cost is never easy to embrace, but we can make it easier on our students and children if we teach them to love, invest in, and embrace things that they will not lose, but rather things they will gain, in following Christ. The Lord in His wisdom has so designed the world that the devil can only take perishable things from us and that in the act of losing them we can gain eternal things. So while we may lose our health and our homes, we cannot lose Christ’s Gospel promises and God can use the loss of earthly things to help us grow in confidence, hope, peace, and virtue.  

People in our country, and even more so in other parts of the world, are losing their jobs, their reputations and even their lives because they follow Christ. The extent to which our children find their meaning, identity, purpose, etc. in these things is the extent to which they will be hesitant or even unable to lay down these things when being a faithful witness requires them to do so. There were times when someone could be a faithful disciple of Jesus and be well-respected and successful in American society; that is not the case in many places today. If we allow, or what is worse, encourage, our children to value and pursue worldly success, a success without reference to Christ, a success not of achievement, but one grounded in the praise and approval of men instead of God, they will not be prepared to “deny themselves and take up their crosses” and follow Christ.

However, if we teach them to value faith and wisdom, virtue and courage, they will be prepared to lose what the world has to offer for they will gain things that really matter and these things cannot be lost. What is more, the character that they forge will set them apart. A man of true integrity, wisdom, and courage is rare these days; a woman of faithfulness, prudence, and fortitude is not often seen. In pursuing godliness in Christ our children will not only “get” God, but will have the type of character that will lead them to prosperous careers, healthy marriages, and flourishing friendships. On the other hand those that pursue success apart from God will not only lose God, but lose the things they chase and ultimately, because they put their meaning in things they cannot control, they will lose their very selves.