I have been studying Colossians and was challenged by Paul's description of the Christian's lives in Colosse and Laodacia. He had never been there, but he had heard about their faith in God and their love for the saints. Paul stated that this faith and love sprang from the hope that they had of the heavenly prize. Their life behaviors were controlled by their focus - that one day they were going to stand before their Savior and receive reward; a GREAT reward. They ordered their life and behaviors around their focus - heaven and being in the presence of Jesus.
Here is my issue...... I intellectually know that God will give me a great reward - that the hope that I have in heaven is beyond my imagination. However, in my heart I sometimes struggle that this is really true. When I look at the world around me and see the pain that Christians suffer (in particular my mom), it is hard to believe that God is good; it is hard to believe that my reward is going to be really that good if life on earth is not that good. Again, I mentally understand that God is good and gives good gifts to me (see James 1:17). It is just hard to rectify the gap between my heart and my head. When this gap begins to form, my heart begins to minimize the value of my heavenly reward.
Here's the problem: if I don't believe that what is laid up in heaven for me is that good, then my hope will not be placed in it like the Colossian's was. I will not order my life around the future. I will become short sighted and live more for reward today than for eternal reward. In essence, I will live my life more like "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die" instead of living for the hope that is laid up in heaven for me. When I loose my focus on this hope, I CANNOT have the faith and love that spring from this hope (seems like a statement of the obvious doesn't it).
How do I overcome this? I have to remind myself that sin is at work destroying the goodness of God, that God IS good and that I am not living for today. It is that simple. I have to believe what God says instead of believing what my heart and my senses say.
I also know that if I find myself not living in faith and loving others, I can be assured that my hope is misplaced. A monitor to keep my focus on the right thing!