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How Much Is Your Life Worth? (Part 1 What Does Your Life Mean To You?)
Although this article is in a series, this is a Complete study on its own. (1 of 4 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
"Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)
Jesus made a very strong statement that cuts to the center of true Christianity. Couched within this principle is a fundamental truth, that once learned, has multiple benefits to its adherents. Is Jesus actually saying we are to suffer the loss of our physical lives? Is He saying that we must die as He died on a cross, to save ourselves? How will our attempts to save our life result in the loss of it, or the loss of it save us? What did Jesus mean?
Imagine you have just died and you find yourself in heaven. You are immediately aware of the goodness and light all around you. There is excitement indeed, but sooner or later you will reflect on the life that you lived while here on earth. You would certainly be enlightened then because you would be changed. But if you were to reflect on the life you had lived, the life that you live right now, how do you suppose you would feel? If you tried to sum up the message your earthly life had sent to a holy God, what would that summary say? Have you ever thought that your life you live on this earth will make a statement so loud that all would hear it reverberate in heaven? It will. Think about it.
1. Realize You Will Have A Life's Message. If you ask the average person what their life means to them they would say, everything. If you asked them if their life were a gift from God, most would say yes. But if you asked them what they were supposed to do with that gift, those same people would give you a blank stare. In fact, most Christians don't consider that there may be a purpose God has for them beyond what they see with their eyes, namely those things involving their own person, their own families, their own communities.
Is there a purpose greater than what we feel with our own senses? Yes, there is, and it involves a Holy God and His will for our lives. If you are now scratching your head and wondering what more God could to do with your life, the answer is more, much more.
"Behold all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right...if he has walked in my statutes and kept my judgments faithfully- he is just; he shall surely live!" says the Lord God." (Ezekiel 18:4-5, 9)
Did you see that God never released ownership of life to any individual? Did you see what He said? He said, Your life, your soul is "Mine." You may wonder then why He doesn't just control us, manipulate us, and force His will upon us since our lives are not our own. The answer is that while we are God's workmanship, His creation. He has decided to treat each individual with dignity despite their sin. He expects us to voluntarily acknowledge the truth of His Sovereignty and His ownership, in fact, our salvation depends on it; and, once saved, we go against our very nature when we refuse to allow God His rightful place as the Sovereign Lord of our lives.
So we are back to the original question: What will you do with this gift that God has given you - a life to live? Will you pretend you own your life? or will you give place to the Lord? Will you allow God to build a life message in you? or will you go to heaven with a life message that you blindly piece together yourself? If you stop to carefully listen, you will begin to hear the reverberations of your life's message, even now. Are you comfortable letting all of heaven hear those reverberations that you hear now?
2. Decide To Create An Honorable Life Message. So, how do you go about creating an honorable life message? The Word of God was written to tell you. Listen to what God says to you through His living Word. Use the Bible as a mirror to look deep inside yourself and to keep you honest with what you see. Don't listen to the loud voice of the World that will tell you that there is no need to be concerned with such things. Constantly sharpen yourself and your mind before the Lord. The result will be a life that stands for an eternity as one well lived. What makes up such a message?
a. Prayer And Worship. The first time I read in the book of Revelation that God somehow keeps the prayers of His saints in vials (or bowls), it disturbed me.
"Now when He [Jesus] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (Revelation 5:8)
I pictured a giant glass with my name on it and each time I pray, a little more "prayer liquid" (like liquid incense) is added. When I thought of it that way, it seemed to me I have wasted so much thought time in trivialities and silliness. I resolved to always do my best to add to my "glass" so that when I get to heaven I can see it filled to the brim. If I got there and my glass was not full I would know that my mind had been thinking more about football or singing some stupid jingle I heard on TV rather than living with an attitude of prayer.
"Pray without ceasing." (1Thessalonians 5:17)
An attitude of prayer goes along with an attitude of worship. Worship involves gratefulness.
"Rejoice always. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ for you." (1Thessalonians 5:16, 18)
I had to ask myself if I was truly grateful for what God was doing in my life. It was easy to be grateful for things I could see, but for those things that were hidden from me, or that seemed to be bad things happening, I found difficulty being thankful. To build a life message - have faith, relax. God knows what He is doing. Be thankfully worshipful. Pray without ceasing.
b. Productivity And Souls. What do you do with your time? Do you merely work with the goal of your next relaxation time? Do you accomplish anything meaningful that isn't just for you? anything that will stand for eternity? The World gives the constant message that you are to think about yourself first. For most, doing things for oneself takes so much time and effort they have nothing left for anyone else. The Bible says to esteem others better than yourself. If one embraces that kind of value system, it will change our behavior towards others. As Christians, we can reflect the values of the World or we can remember we are under a Divine mandate to tell others about Jesus and reproduce ourselves spiritually.
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching." (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
To build a life's message we must cause ourselves to want to meet many people in heaven that would not have been there except for our cooperation with the Holy Spirit in winning them. We have to learn to see people in their need, as saved or unsaved and then be sensitive so that the Spirit can use us to win them to Christ.
c. Blessing And A Legacy. God is so gracious and loving. He not only saves us but also bountifully rewards the faithful servant. He honors us though we are despicable sinners, all because of the righteousness of Jesus.
"So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly I say to you, there is no one that left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel's who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions - and in the ages to come, eternal life." (Mark 10:29-30)
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the un-thankful and evil." (Luke 6:35)
What do you want people to think of you after you die? that you made a lot of money? or that you simply never really hurt anyone? Or would you want those around you to say "He always talked about God. He always wanted everyone to know about Jesus?" What do you want to pass along to your children? the legacy of a faithful servant? or a "do as I say not as I do" example? Don't you want to be remembered as a man or woman of God? someone your children see as godly and honorable? Don't you want to have a life that your children can look to as one that honored God and as one they should mimic? Cooperate with God to write a life message that stands for an eternity. Step back and consider your life from a different perspective. You won't be sorry you did.
You must realize that this article was written for Christians. Before salvation, it is impossible to do these spiritual things because man is powerless without the indwelling Spirit. This article is for one who wishes to be less depressed, to have less stress, to have more stability. It is written for those seeking more happiness now and a life that makes a real difference in eternity.
But what if you don't know God as personal Lord and Savior? What kind of message will you write and who will see it? Well, the Bible says that a person without Christ is separated from God's love by his sin. That's why Jesus came to earth to die for you, to restore the connection between you and God. The only message that will resound in heaven for you without Christ is that the wrath of God abides on you. That's not what God wants for you. No, He pleads with you to reconsider your life, to receive Him before it's too late. There are no guarantees regarding the length of life and many a life ends early. Now is the excepted time, today is the day of salvation. How does one go about calling on God to save them? It's easy. All a person does is pray believing in the Gospel and be resolved to follow God for the rest of their lives. Pray this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know You are God in human flesh that died for my sins. I know I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe Lord You were nailed to an old rugged cross and died there for me. You were buried in the tomb and in three days You rose from the dead, that is the Gospel. Please, Jesus, forgive me of my sins and save me. I promise I will follow You all the days of my life because You are the only Way of Salvation. Thank you, Lord, for hearing and saving me for I have prayed this in Jesus' mighty name. Amen
Others in this series of independent articles: