A man had the good fortune and insight to take a chance with a credit card company in the Baltimore area several decades ago. He retired as a wealthy, high-ranking executive. In the course of his career, he put together a streak so impressive (35 years in which he never missed a day of work) that Cal Ripken wrote him a letter commending him for it. When he retired, the company gave him a classic car as well as many other lavish gifts. He had many benefits and perks, the admiration of peers and competitors, resort town houses, and considerable wealth. Yet, one day very soon after he retired, a doctor visit changed his life dramatically. He was found to have an aggressive form of cancer. Two or three months later, he was dead….
This is not a commentary on the morality or priorities of this man. Frankly, I know nothing about either. His story points out that his well-laid plans and successful career building could not forestall or avoid the inevitable end result common to every man. It also should provoke a question. For what are we living? Is our identity tied up in our career? Do we want to be known as the life of the party? Is it all about travel and adventure? Does life revolve around going to the river, the campground, the fishing hole, the beach, or the mountains? Is it sports, shopping, spending, or spirituality? Of necessity, all of us have a central focus. It is the thing that forms the bull’s eye at which we repeatedly find ourselves aiming.
The Scriptures reveal that Jesus should have the preeminence in our lives (see Colossians 1:18). Jesus is to be FIRST PLACE in our list of priorities. When it comes to our jobs, Jesus must take FIRST PLACE. When it comes to our recreation, same thing. When it comes to relationships, He deserves primary position. Whatever we say or do, Jesus must be at the forefront.
Only God knows the heart, but is it ever the case that we often choose money, sports, pleasure, recreation, hobbies, career, children, parents, spouse, or some other thing over Christ? The teaching of Jesus indicates that we often struggle in these areas. He warns that we may invest in the wrong kind of treasure rather than the true riches (Matthew 6:19-21). He implies that money can trump the Messiah as master of man (Matthew 6:24). He admonishes disciples to seek the kingdom first over “things” (Matthew 6:33). He warns against choosing family members over Himself (Matthew 10:37).
When life draws to a close, one will be confronted by the reality of what he or she made first place. Certainly, when one crosses the sea from time to eternity, there will be no denying, rationalizing, debating, or arguing about what one has chosen as his/her “bull’s eye.” But, in our heart of hearts, don’t we really know what’s most important to us… right now? It’s what occupies the greatest amount of our interest, time, energy, emotion, and effort. It is what we live for.
When we die, will what we live for help us live eternally or will it cause us to experience eternal death (cf. Revelation 21:8)? Let’s heed Paul’s urging to “set your affection on things above and not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2) by trusting God (Hebrews 11:6), repenting of our sin (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Christ (Romans 10:9-10), submitting to baptism (immersion) in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), and living for Him for the rest of our lives (Revelation 2:10).
For what or for whom are YOU living?
Highs and Lows
If all the world were broad and flat
How dull the scene would be!
We’d wish instead for hills and vales
With changing views to see.
If all of life were free from care,
Devoid of tears and pain,
There’d be no failure or success —
No summits to attain.
But life is filled with ups and downs,
With happiness and woe.
Our joys are like the mountaintops;
Our sorrows lie below.
The Lord who made the lofty peaks
Designed the valleys too.
And He is there at every turn
To guide our passage through.
~ Amy Clarke Ellis ~