During the month of July at the Crossing campus, we’ve been studying what the biblical perspective is on money. The teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul on this important subject have been insightful as we seek to follow Christ and the scriptures.
While driving home last Sunday from Valley Bible Church, two songs came to mind, reminding me that anything the world could offer pales in comparison to the value and worth of Jesus. The first song was the old favorite, I’d rather have Jesus, composed by George Beverly Shea in 1932. For those of you who haven’t heard of Shea, he was a Canadian-born American gospel singer and hymn composer. He was considered ‘the first international singing star of the gospel world’. Due largely to his solos at Billy Graham Crusades as well as in concerts, he held the Guinness Book of World Records for singing in front of the most people ever, a combined audience of 220 million.
The words and chorus of this beautiful and moving hymn are:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands
Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name.
The second song, Better is One Day, comes from Psalm 84:10. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
What these two songs have in common is the word than. ‘Than’ expresses a contrast between something and something else. For the follower of Christ, we understand that having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the wisest decision we will ever make in our lives. He promises us a certain and wonderful future with Him forever! No matter how much we have in cash, real estate, investment accounts or stocks and bonds; they can’t ever satisfy nor meet our deepest needs – forgiveness of sin and having peace with God. This is why the psalmist said that just one day in the presence of God is better than a thousand elsewhere. There is simply no comparison!
“We simply cannot conceive the glory, the joy, the beauty, the freedom of being where Jesus is.” (William McDonald)
The apostle Peter reminds us that our free salvation and the certainty of being with Christ forever was at great cost to our Savior. “Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18)
Therefore, it is only fitting that we consider anything and everything else as secondary to our pursuit of a relationship with God. It should be a pursuit that is out of joy and not obligation. It’s critical to understand that He calls us to radical commitment as we treasure Him above all else. Can we identify what is holding us back from daily surrendering to Him and His Kingdom?
Jim Elliott nailed it when he wrote in his diary:
“Father, let me be weak that I might lose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand. Even, Father, would I lose the love of fondling. How often I have released a grasp only to retain what I prized by ‘harmless’ longing, the fondling touch. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary, as Christ’s was opened—that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me now. He thought Heaven, yea, equality with God, not a thing to be clutched at. So let me release my grasp.”
May God clearly show us where we need to release our grasp on what hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for each of us. This will only happen if we learn to fix our eyes firmly on Jesus and make Him our focus-point.
May God help us to genuinely be able to say,
“I’d rather have Jesus than anything, this world affords today!”
Author: Randy White, elder