August 28, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
High school student Cara Wood worked as a waitress in Dink’s Colonial Restaurant outside of Cleveland, Ohio. One of her customers was an older man named Bill Cruxton. In time, Cara and Bill became friends. Bill would always sit in Cara’s section when he ate at Dink’s. Bill, who was a widower and had no children, told Cara she reminded him of his wife, Gertrude. Before Cara graduated from high school, Bill died. To her great surprise, she inherited Bill’s estate, which was valued at a half-million dollars. Now that, I submit, is an astounding inheritance.
Chances are you and I won’t be as lucky as Cara Wood, at least not in this life. But, according to Revelation 21:7, we have an astounding inheritance waiting for us in the life to come. As we examine this verse carefully, we’ll begin to discover what this means for us and how it can reshape our lives today.
Revelation 21:7 begins by referring to “those who are victorious.” This is a clear echo of several verses in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. In each of these letters, the risen Christ identifies tests and temptations that challenge the faith of Christians in Asia Minor. Yet, if they persevere, if they are victorious in the face of such challenges, then they will receive generous blessings in the age to come. These blessings include eating from the tree of life (2:7), authority over the nations (2:26), and the right to sit with Christ on his throne (3:21). Surely, the inheritance of Revelation 21:7 includes these blessings, and probably more.
Before focusing on our inheritance, however, I want to pause for a moment to consider an implication of the language of victory in Revelation. It assumes that life on earth is a contest, a battle for believers. (This is underscored elsewhere in Scripture, of course, such as in Ephesians 6:10-20.) In Revelation 2-3, the attack upon believers comes in various forms, including false teachers, persecution, poverty, suffering, immorality, the temptation to have lukewarm faith, and martyrdom. Christians throughout the world today face similar assaults. I expect you can identify at least a couple of challenges in this list that show up regularly in your life.
What does this mean in our day-to-day lives? It means we should not be shocked when life is hard, when we face obstacles and temptations. When things are not going as we would hope, whether at work or at home, whether in our relationships with colleagues or our marriages, not to mention in the wider world, we should not be surprised. Rather we should be prepared to fight on behalf of God’s kingdom, seeking his justice and righteousness. As we do, we are sustained by the promise of the inheritance promised to those who are victorious. We’ll begin to look at this inheritance closely tomorrow.
Something to Think About:
How would you have felt if you were in Cara Wood’s shoes? What would you do if you inherited an unexpected half million dollars?
In what ways do you experience the spiritual battle assumed in Revelation 21:7?
In the midst of this battle, what helps you to fight faithfully? What helps you to overcome?
Gracious God, thank you for the promise of a glorious inheritance for those of us who are victorious. Thank you for insuring our victory through Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping us to fight in the meanwhile. Thank you for all you supply so that we might stand for your kingdom.
Help us, Lord, to do battle against all that opposes you in this world. May we do so with your strength, your weapons, and your truth. Amen.
This post was originally published on April 19, 2016.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Seven Churches of Revelation (Revelation 2-3)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
This so timely. My husband preached on Ephesians 6: 10-20 but tied it into a hymn called Be Thou My Vision. But the hymnal our church using “Christian Life Hymnal”2006 has dropped the one verse that has any reference to shield and sword and fight. Ron taught much like you are saying that this world right now has stuggles. Some Christian teachings want to ignore this and teach that it is all victory here on earth now. But I found it interesting that this teaching was clearly demonstrated in the omission of that verse. Warm Regards
Gwen, thanks for your comment. Too bad about the shortening of the hymn, however. – Mark