Sometime ago, I happened to leaf through a book that my oldest daughter was reading about the Great Depression. As I turned the pages, my eye was caught by a picture of men and women enjoying themselves at a speakeasy. The women were young and beautiful. The men were young, handsome, and sharply dressed. People were smoking, drinking, and having a good time. Somebody must have made a joke because everyone in the picture was laughing - including the two bartenders. Most, if not all, of the men and women in this picture are now dead. In the picture they are young, beautiful, happy, and very much alive. Today, their souls and spirits are in eternity, and their physical bodies are now dust lying somewhere in a grave. These are sobering thoughts indeed; yet, these are the thoughts which passed through my mind as I stared at the picture wondering about the eternal whereabouts of each individual I studied. What kind of lives did they live on the earth? What were their priorities? What did they accomplish on earth during the few years they’d been given by God?
If I had walked into that speakeasy and said to the people, "The only thing you can take with you when you leave this world is a life that was lived for the glory of God," I wonder how they would have responded. I wonder what changes, if any, would have been made in their lives.
In the Book of Revelation, Satan is referred to as the great dragon, the ancient serpent, or the devil who "leads the whole world astray." There are many ways in which the evil one deceives God’s creation and leads men astray. He has deceived some to believe that God doesn’t even exist. He has deceived some to believe that things which God calls sin are not sin at all. He has deceived some to believe that sin has no consequences. He has even deceived millions to believe that salvation is possible apart from the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even in the life of those who do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His atoning work, his deceptive work is never-ending. One of the greatest ways in which Satan leads many well-meaning Christians astray is by causing them to become distracted by the cares, worries, anxieties, and priorities of this life while wholly neglecting the things which really matter, such as their relationship with Christ, their obedience to His Word, and their call to holy service.
In Psalm 90:12, which was written by Moses, we read as follows: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Simply put, Moses teaches that we must recognize our limited time on earth so that we will use that time with wisdom.
We who are in Christ would do well each and every single day to examine our lives before God to see if we are spending our limited time in this world wisely. There are so many fun and interesting things to become involved with in this life, are there not? Sports, clubs, politics, hobbies, etc. While there is nothing wrong with involving ourselves in these types of activities, we need to ask ourselves which activities will bring us the most rewards in eternity? Which activities will profit us and others spiritually? Which activities will advance the Kingdom of God and the cause of Christ? We must then discipline ourselves to focus only on those activities and to let go of those which will have no eternal value.
Writing is something that I have always enjoyed doing in my spare time when I’m not cooking, cleaning, washing clothes or home schooling my children. Several years ago, I started writing editorials for our local newspaper. I wrote on many different subjects, none of which had anything to do with Christ or His Kingdom. Because so much of my time was being spent writing editorials on politics, the economy, and other current events, there was no time left for writing about the things which really mattered - the Kingdom of God and all things which pertain to that Kingdom. One day, while meditating on Psalm 90:12, I had to ask myself if I was using the limited time I’ve been given on earth wisely. I had to ask myself the following question: Which will benefit others for eternity? Articles about the economy and politics or articles which teach others about the Lord, His Kingdom, and how He desires us to live in Him? I think we all know the answer to this question.
The Lord gave me the ability to write. He gave me the ability to teach. All talents and gifts come to us from our Creator. But it’s up to us to decide whether we are going to use those talents and gifts for Him or for the world. Not everyone is called to full-time ministry, but we are all called to serve God and others using the time, treasure, and talents which He has given to us. We are all called to love the Lord with all our hearts, seek Him with all our hearts, and serve Him with all our hearts. This is what it means to live a Christ-centered life.
How do we spend our time outside of work? To what extent do we seek the Lord through prayer and study of His Word? To what extent do we make ourselves available to be used by the Holy Spirit in ministry to others?
Psalm 90:12 is a wake-up call to all who profess to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. Our time in this life is but a fleeting vapor; it is limited because God has decreed that man should one day return to dust as a result of Adam’s sin. Thanks be to God for His Son Jesus Christ! Because of His atoning work on Calvary, one day, our physical bodies will be resurrected, and we shall die no more! In the meantime, however, impermanence on the earth is our inescapable fate. Therefore, we need to use our time wisely before God by engaging in those activities which will benefit us spiritually and bring us rewards in eternity.
Several nights ago, my family went for a walk. While walking past one of the apartments in our complex, we were able to look into the window since the resident’s blinds were opened. The resident must have had at least 20-25 trophies all over the place. We marveled, because we had never seen that many trophies in anyone’s home. Obviously, our neighbor was into sports and was good at them. His rewards were all about him to prove his skill and success. But when he dies, what eternal value will his trophies be to him then? How did they profit him or others spiritually while he lived on the earth? When he stands before the Lord Jesus Christ, is Christ going to say, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, for you excelled in sports, gave your time completely to them, and even received trophies because you had become such a champion on the earth. Enter into My Father’s joy." Is it not the man who gave to the poor, who visited the sick and imprisoned, and who clothed the naked who will hear these words? Is it not the woman who sought and served the Lord Jesus Christ with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength who will one day hear these words?
In the coming new year, we all would do well to take stock of the lives we are currently living before God. How do we spend our spare time? In what way are our activities profiting us or others spiritually? Will our activities have value in eternity? Will they bring us eternal rewards or do they only have value in this life?
May God give all of us hearts of wisdom that we may number our days aright and use our time wisely for Him on the earth. May our hearts not grow weary in serving Him even though we may see very little rewards for that service here on the earth. When we are lying on our deathbeds, and when we enter into eternity, we will be so glad that we made the right choice as to how we would spend our time, treasure and talent on the earth.
The only thing we can take with us when we leave this world is our love for God and what we did with that love. May God grant all of us the grace and strength to apply to our hearts the words of Psalm 90:12. One day, our physical bodies will turn to dust, brothers and sisters. But our deeds will live forever, and in glory, they will be transformed into eternal treasures that can never perish, be stolen, or left behind to someone else. May the way in which we spend our time, treasure, and talent in this life be a testimony to God that in Him, we have found the only Priority worth pursuing, the only Goal worth striving for, the only Treasure worth seeking, and the only One worth living for.
He who has a listening ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
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