At the End of the Journey

Published on Thursday, 29 August 2019 22:57
Written by Stewardship Today Staff

Ask any diligent high school honor student what all the hard work is for, and you’ll get a fairly predictable answer. “I’m working hard, so that I can earn a scholarship to a really good college.” That’s expected and sounds about right. It’s what many would say is important. Go one step further and ask a senior at the university what all the hard work is for, and the response will be similar: “I’m working hard, so that I can choose from a variety of really good job offers when I graduate.” No earth rattling revelation there, of course—we’re convinced that’s what the journey of education is all about.

So, what follows? What’s next? Good grades, a promising entry level job, a series of promotions and moves, marriage, maybe kids, a bigger house, more responsibility, better pay, a sense power and authority, independence and respect, then solid retirement. Maybe health. Yes, that’s what we work for. In effect, it is the substance we pursue—the carrot just beyond our reach, the promise of reward each step of the way, and the treasure at the end of the journey. We want financial independence, the esteem of our peers, and a secure future. It’s what we’re after, and we encourage our children to do the same thing.

Well, what does the biblical apostle suggest? In the sixth chapter of his initial pastoral letter to St. Timothy, St. Paul offered significantly contrasting advice: “Pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” On the one hand, we have jobs, houses, financial security and authority. Righteousness, faith and gentleness are quite different goals. And the term St. Paul uses in a quest to acquire them is translated pursue, an engagingly determined pursuit to obtain. To desire righteousness, devotion and faith would be one thing. To actively pursue them is another. We understand pursuit; we just don’t equate it with patience and gentleness. No wonder our lives are stress-laden. Our priorities are imbalanced. It’s for our own good that we pursue the right things.