I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
Newport, Rhode Island is a rather quaint seaside city on Aquidneck Island where the super rich of the gilded age built their “summer cottages” in the late 1800’s. These cottages are actually huge opulent mansions built along the ocean with breathtaking views, where the rich came from all around the country and overseas to socialize during the summer for about six to eight weeks.
This last weekend we took a bus tour of Newport and visited “The Breakers”, perhaps the most famous of the Newport mansions. As we walked through we considered the contrast between the lifestyle of the super rich and the common man. But actually wealth is a continuum from abject poverty to the super rich lifestyle. Considering the conditions in which people live all around the world most of us have more in common with the super rich then the desperately poor.
Many years ago when we lived in Taunton, MA we toured the “Marble House” with a group of fellow ministers along with our wives. This “cottage” cost $11,000,000 in the late 1800’s to build. As we walked through the palatial interior several of us were humming an old gospel song titled, “I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old”!
But those who wined and dined in this opulent residence are long gone. It’s very unlikely that they gave much attention to their souls, but of course only God knows. The tour guide told us that the owner of the Marble House built this mansion for his wife and gave it to her on her birthday. Two years later she was married to a mansion owner just up the street, so we know that riches really can’t buy or secure love. A fitting word for them and for all who ever live is the soul probing question of our Lord declaring, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but forfeits his soul?”. Big mansion or little shanty, what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Our daily verse has inspired, comforted, and encouraged believers for centuries and is the source of many Gospel songs (30 in the “Song Select” database alone). It’s actually the only time the word “mansion” is used in the KJV, translated from the Greek word “mone” which is often translated as “abide’, with its derivative being “abode”.
Modern versions usually translate the word as “rooms” or “dwelling places” and they have been unfairly criticized by some for this. I suppose we get in our minds it will be like a large mansion on this earth and we don’t want that dispelled. Hey, after all, if we didn’t get a mansion on this side we like the assurance of thinking one awaits us in our eternal abode!
Well, as we pointed out, the Greek conveys the sense of “abide”. The dominant feature of heaven will not be the extravagance of our abode but the extravagance of abiding with Jesus in all His glory. We will be living in the very presence of “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father–to Him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:5,6).
Remember this world is not our real home. Our Lord is coming back and we will one day be living in a place that will make Newport or any other supposed “paradise” on this earth seem like a squatter’s village!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber