Martin Luther once observed that young men are tempted by girls. When they are thirty, they are tempted by gold. When they are forty, they are lured and enticed by glory and honor. And when they are sixty, they think, “What a pious fellow I have become!” We too readily confuse the natural waning of lusts with the growth of grace.
Once there was a young man who thought that if he simply did what everyone else around him was doing—go to church, learn the right words, imitate the right people—he would get on all right. And so that is what he did. He did not seek wisdom, but rather conformity. Now of course, wisdom understands the need for conformity, when appropriate, and wisdom understands the need to stand alone, when appropriate. But this young man could only understand conforming or, if he were to go the other route like some of his friends, not conforming.
Since the only real issue in his life at that time was girls—the gold and glory would come later, right on schedule—he thought that if he just kept up a good reputation at church, he would be able to court and marry a girl suitable to him. And this was exactly right—he would marry a girl suitable to him, a girl who was his feminine counterpart. Instead of providing him with godly help and encouragement, she was just the first of three goals, and she would in turn provide on-going motivation for him in the pursuit of the next two. Like Haman’s wife, she played an active role in urging him on to his destruction.
What neither of them understood was that these stages of life are natural and, indeed, inescapable. But the entryway for each is death and resurrection, and not quiet and carnal accumulation. The one who gathers will only want bigger barns until his foolish life is required of him. The one who surrenders will receive thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold, not only in this life, but also in the one to come.