Our Time Here Matters
The Most Important Choice
I came across some sad stories in the news the other day, stories pertaining to the deaths of people who were not, or most likely not, saved. It got me thinking again, as I have thought in the past, about how much our short time here on earth matters. The choices the people in those news stories had been making were very destructive to their lives here on earth, and eventually led to these folks' untimely deaths. The most important choice they made on earth, however, is one with an impact that followed them into eternity: the choice to not receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus. This one choice made in their short time here mattered more than they thought it did. Now they are separated from God—forever. How sad it is. It grieves me to think of it. How different, too, would their lives had been, had they let Jesus change them while on earth. Salvation is not just for eternity. It is for our lives here in this world as well.
Receiving the gift of God's salvation through Jesus Christ is only the beginning of a worthwhile time on earth. While it is the most important decision a person will ever make, there are other smaller (though still important) decisions we must make in the time our Lord gives us here afterwards. Our thoughts and attitudes towards life will impact how we decide to live as a believer in Jesus.
So often I feel that we as Christians go too far in one direction or the other with how we view our earthly existence. We seem to either cling too tightly to the stuff of earth, forgetting that it isn't all about life here, or we have the trudging, ho-hum attitude that seems to say, "hurry up and get this waste of time here over with, Lord, so I can go to heaven". Well, neither are in the right attitude as far as I am concerned. For the first attitude, Jesus had plenty of things to say. A chief example is when He said to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and thieves do not break in or steal" (Matt. 6:20, NASB). He was not merely spouting platitudes when He said that, either. What we do with our earthly wealth, time, and talents matters in an eternal way. We can chase after all the junk down here that we cannot take with us, or we can have the treasures of heaven that will last forever. What that treasure is like and its true worth is not fully comprehended by us at present. Yet it is there, waiting for every believer, and what we do here on earth impacts how much we will have stored up in the Eternal Kingdom. (Hmm, three lattés a week and nothing to show for it but an empty wallet or one a week with the money for the others going to minister Jesus' love to a needy child, and eternal riches to boot...you get the idea.) Chasing after earthly wealth and pleasures also can leave our hearts far away from Jesus. We are meant to walk closely with Him here, and nothing of this life should come between us and Him.
The other attitude is conscious of the need to hold temporal things lightly, which is good, but it still lacks the understanding of the fullness of all God wants for us. It thinks that this earthly life is something just to exist through. People with this attitude do not see that the Lord leaves most of us on earth after He saves us for a reason. Most of that reason pertains to building His Kingdom by ministering in His love to others around us, both believers and unbelievers alike. We should be showing unbelievers in both word and deed how they too can receive the eternal benefits of salvation through Jesus. We are also left here so God's good work can be done in our lives and hearts, even through hardships. Now, it is not that we cannot long to be with Jesus; we ought to desire this. I would say one would need to do a spiritual check if one had no desire to be with Him at all. I believe Paul the apostle gave us a clear example of the balance between being here and wanting to be with Jesus. He said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again." (Philippians 1:21-26, NASB) He had the God-given perspective that though it is better for us to be with Jesus, Jesus has work for us to do on earth. There are things He wants to do in us and through us, and He has decided that those things will be done here. Though there is trial and hardship on earth (or as Paul calls it, "momentary, light affliction"), it "is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison". (2 Cor. 4:17b)
Living With Purpose
Your time here matters, period. First, to decide where you will spend eternity. Second, for the Christian, to gain riches that do not perish and things in the Kingdom I do not think we can even yet fully understand with our finite minds. Finally, for us as believers to help others to choose life through Jesus and be His disciples along with us. Remember these things as you live today, and live like it matters—to Jesus, to your eternity, and to the eternity of others around you. Christians were not left here on earth to merely exist or to fill space. Your purpose is in Christ, and your reward is with Him. Lay hold of this truth and ask Him to help you understand who you are in Him. You cannot remain unchanged by this understanding. It causes you to look at everything in a different way—God's way. It enables you to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, because as He changes your perspective, He realigns your priorities. Your time here really is not yours anymore if you are a child of God. It is His. Be free in that thought, and let Him have your time in this place called earth. He is what makes it matter. You have life abundantly, because you have Him Who is Life itself.
Lord, help me to live like my time here matters, and live for Your glory alone! Amen.