I have been quite ill for the past three years, and in particular, in the last year. Lots of hours/days in bed. Lots of medication, doctor’s appointments, tests, and surgeries. The idleness during my convalescence has been the most difficult with which to deal. Only a minor handful of visitors have bothered to drop by and check on me. I am most grateful for the few that have and I thank God for the devoted friendship they have shown me. Life is funny and queer-some over things like relationships with other people, who really care about you, and those who just say they do. Those people who stand by you, encourage you, and comfort you by just being there physically with you every now and then, give you great strength and reason to carry on and endure through the struggles you go through when you are injured. It is these committed, proven friends in your life who you can you really count on and draw support from as loyal friends who will always be there for you. I have had a lot of time to really give some serious thought to these and other questions about personal relationships and their associated value and benefit.
You most probably have heard the metaphor about how much you will be missed once you are gone, with the analogy of a man sticking his hand into a bucket of water. It is said that after you are gone, you will be missed about as much as the hole that will remain in the bucket-full of water when the hand is removed……not very much.
Most true producers in life—those most productive over a sustained period of time—most often (albeit secretly) consider themselves highly valuable and important based upon the results of their use of their own lives; based upon the important contributions they have indeed made to the public and private welfare and benefit.
The Holy Bible clearly tells us that only the Creator of a person (God Almighty) is qualified to be the one who decides the true value of the life that such a person actually lived. One of the most important attributes of such a person being evaluated by God, would and definitely should be,…how many other people came to personally know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as a result of the person’s life as it was lived out here on earth. To truly understand what is really being said by that last statement, a person has to personally come to know Christ and then trust Him to do His job accurately. That, of course, requires the exercise of great personal faith.
Man, on the other hand, seems to always want to judge and evaluate another person’s, achievements and accomplishments from the outside appearance,…from the external perspective. God, however, always evaluates and views human lives from the internal, unseen, spiritual side. There is a great difference between these two perspectives. Perhaps I may be able to make my point more clearly through a short story about a real man who lived and worked hard all of his physical life and wanted to be well remembered, by all those with whom he engaged, as a most valuable and important man.
You see, if you are a person of great accomplishment, and know who you really are in Christ, and always do the right and righteous things with the use of your life, time, and resources,… God Himself (not man) will provide you all the recognition and acclaim that you will ever want or need on this side of eternity.
Permit me to say to you that you either believe that statement as truth or you don’t. It is your personal choice to either agree or disagree with God’s Word. But may I remind you that God’s interpretation will always prevail over man’s evaluation.
A story please………
“Not far from Lincoln, Kansas, stands a strange group of gravestones. A man named Davis, a farmer and self-proclaimed self-made man, had them all erected. This man Davis began as a lowly hired hand. By sheer determination and resolute frugality, managed to amass a considerable fortune during his lifetime. In the process of amassing his wealth, however, the farmer did not make or maintain many close personal friends. Nor was he close to his wife’s family since they all thought that she had married well beneath her dignity. Embittered, Mr. Davis vowed never to leave his in-laws a single dime upon his eventual death.
When his wife died, Davis erected an elaborate and most beautiful hand-carved statute in her memory. He hired the most well-known and highly successful local sculptor to design a monument that showed both her and him sitting at the opposite ends of a love-seat. He was so pleased with the result that he immediately commissioned another statute. This time of himself kneeling at his wife’s grave, placing a wreath on it. That impressed him so greatly that he planned a third monument, this time of his wife kneeling at his future gravesite, depositing a wreath. He had the sculptor add a pair of wings on her back, since she was no longer alive, giving her the appearance of an angel. One idea led to another until he’d spent no less than a quarter million dollars on the monuments to himself and his wife!
Whenever someone from the town would suggest he might be interested in getting involved in a community project (a hospital, a park and swimming pool for children, a municipal building, or the like) the old miser would frown, set his jaw and snap back, “What’s this town ever done for me? I don’t owe this town nothin!”
After using up all his resources on stone statutes and other selfish pursuits, John Davis died at age ninety-two, a grim faced resident of the poor-house. But the monuments…it’s strange….Each one is slowly sinking in the Kansas soil, fast becoming victims of time, vandalism, and neglect. Monuments of spite. Sad reminders of a self-centered, unsympathetic life. There is a certain poetic justice in the fact that within a few years, they will all be gone.
Oh, by the way, very few people attended Mr. Davis’ funeral service. It is reported that only one person seemed genuinely moved by any sense of personal loss. He was Horace England…the tombstone salesman.”
Now before getting too severe with the late Mr. Davis, let’s take an honest look at the monuments that are being erected today—some of which are no less revealing, if not quite so obvious.
One of my mentors, Pastor Charles R. Swindoll, made some most interesting comments regarding the different kinds of things that we are doing with our lives here on earth. While these type things seem to us personally, to be good, godly, and of great significance, we often times deceive ourselves. Whether knowingly or not, the violation/disobedience to God’s Laws is a sin and all sins will always carry with them a high and most severe price that we must one day pay.
A close investigation will reveal at least four kinds of monuments that can and do get erected in our lives as we live them out over the time we spend here on earth:
Much the same as the Davis gravestones in the story above, these monuments are built in clusters, making them appear formidable…and acceptable. Just as the idols in ancient Athens, Greece,….our society today is saturated with them.
FORTUNE. How nice and neatly it fits in our times today! It’s inscription at the base is ever so bold: “Get rich.” The statuesque figures in the monument are very impressive: a hard-working young executive; a clever, diligent businessman unwilling to admit to the greed behind his long hours away from his family and his relentless personal drive for greater and greater success and wealth than he has already achieved.
FAME. Here is another monument tailor-made for the Twenty-First Century. It reads: “Be famous.” All its figures are bowing in worship to the popularity cult, eagerly anticipating the day when their desire to be known, seen, quoted, applauded, and exalted will, at last, be satisfied. Young and old surround the scene.
POWER. Etched in the flesh of this human edifice are the words: “Take control.” These figures are capitalizing on every opportunity to seize the reins of authority and race to the top…regardless of the price to be paid. Look out for number one!”
PLEASURE. The fourth monument is perhaps the most familiar of all, its message echoed countless times in the media, is straight-forward: “Indulge yourself.” If it looks good, enjoy it! If it tastes good, drink it! If it feels good, do it! Just like the line out of the Academy Award winning song “You Light Up My Life,” that says:
“It can’t be wrong
If it feels so right…”
Conspicuous by its absence is the forgotten philosophy of Jesus Christ. He is the One who taught the truth about being eternally rich through giving rather than getting. About serving others rather than leaving footprints on their backs in the race for the farthest star. About surrendering rights rather than clamoring for more control. About limiting your liberty out of love and saying “no” when the flesh pleads for “yes.” You know—the whole package wrapped up in one simple statement…
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
No elaborate set of statutes. No sculptures done in marble—not even an epitaph for the world to read. And when He died, few cared because few understood. They were simply too busy building their own monuments.
And still are.
When you finally come to know what the real and true reason is as to why God Almighty created you and put you here on this earth, then, and only then, will you be ready to really live your life for the honor and glory of God Himself. Then is when the real blessings and rewards will come pouring back into your life. Most of it will occur on the other side of eternity. The side that lies just beyond all these marble, man-made, earthly monuments.
Peace and Love to All of You……………………..Poppa Bear