“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18,19)
There will always be a cost to pay for staying true to Christ. In taking up our cross we make the decision to pay that cost. When the cross is before us, the world is behind us. Those things we counted gain we now count loss. But the cross can never be looked upon as our final end. In God’s grand scheme for our life it is “but a moment” that works for us a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
When Jesus first began talking of the cross in His future, Peter recoiled at the idea. Nonsense! He rebuked Jesus for entertaining such a horrid notion. “Pity yourself, Master! Stop indulging these masochistic fantasies.” But Jesus immediately recognized the voice of the god of this world speaking through His beloved disciple. “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)
Jesus would have none of Satan’s self-pitying tone. He saw nothing but joy in His future: “… who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) The sufferings of this present world could not compare to the eternal glory that was ahead. Jesus was not about to be robbed of His glorious inheritance.
Enemies of the cross are always about the here and now. Like Esau, their god is their belly. They can’t think past their present growling stomach. They are in the throes of an exaggerated distress. “And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Gen. 25:32) Paul knew that many were walking in this mentality, caught up in earthly things, losing sight of the eternal. Such a mindset always leads to a despising of our heavenly birthright.
The loss of the cross is temporary. Its sting is swallowed up in victory. But the forfeiture of heavenly treasure is eternal. Esau found no place of repentance with his father. Loving and saving our life in this world is always a losing proposition. See past your cross to the glory that follows. Let not friend or foe pity you for your faithfulness to Christ. Find friends of the cross to encourage you. You have every reason to rejoice. Your mourning will be turned to laughter.