Over the course of this week I have found myself pondering what is really important in life. I have been dealing with many situations around Ignite which seem terribly important to those involved. I’ve been dealing with plans, extensions, programs, finances, relationships.
But this week we’ve had the passing and celebration of Lorna’s life, and frankly it put things into a rather stark perspective!
Here us running around like cooks without heads, full of energy, full of action, pursuing what we think it’s important in life… but God stopped me for a time…
Jesus sobered Martha up when she complained…
Luke 10:41-42 (ESV Strong’s)
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
WHAT BENDS YOU OUT OF SHAPE?
Most people die with regrets. Many of the things we have blown up about and ruined relationships over, most of what we fight doggedly for today, have no meaning in eternity and aren’t really important in life. Some of you thought rock music was satanic, and that dancing was of the devil. Some thought women wearing makeup or shorts was offensive, or going to the cinema was sinful…
Styles change, opinions change, preferences change, but Jesus is a constant…
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV Strong’s)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
But we get so steamed up about things that ultimately, in eternity, don’t matter, in fact, they don’t even matter in a month or two. We get mad because the traffic was bad, someone charged me too much, she said this about me! We fight traffic, fight each other, fight for our rights. In our affluent society, where we have more stuff than ever before, everybody fights for their so called rights.
Ask yourself… are these things really important in life? In one year, 5 years, 10 years you won’t even remember that has you so angered or offended right now!
HOW DO WE GET A TRUE PERSPECTIVE…
Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
We are so blessed in Australia, but we always manage to find something to whine and complain about, don’t we. Listen here’s a perspective…
If you have had an education and know how to read, then you are more blessed that over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who won’t survive the week.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change lying in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
And if you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, You are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
It’s amazing how humbling this realisation is…to know that the poorest of us in this room are richer than most of the rest of the world, and yet we never have enough?
So let me begin this message on what’s really important in life by asking the reverse…
WHAT’S NOT IMPORTANT IN LIFE?
I want to mention some things that you might think are important right now, that the world tells you are important, but when you get to the end of your life and are ready to face judgement, they simple aren’t important in life at all!
1. RELAXATION, RECREATION, CONVENIENCE AND ENJOYMENT
We joke about 1st world problems!
Recently my niece visited and didn’t get a joke I made. I was ordering a pizza, and tracking it on my phone, and feigned outrage that it was 3 minutes overdue. She thought I was serious and told me about people in the world with not enough to eat…
Most of our life is spent in the pursuit of comfort and convenience. We have instant gratification, instant coffee, microwaves and TV dinners. They even invented a microwave TV, so you can watch the show 60 minutes in just one minute.
People say they just want to have a good, fun life. You can, but the fun you’ve had, the experiences, the sin, it all is worthless in eternity!
We have so much! We have air conditioning for when it gets too hot, heating if it gets too cold. We don’t cultivate our food, we don’t plant and reap it at harvest time, we pick things off a supermarket shelf.
Jesus didn’t die to give you a good time and a comfortable
The symbol for Christianity is a cross not a cushion. Comforts, convenience… we’ve never had so many in history before, but people are more miserable than ever because they are selfish!
Christianity is not a life of self, it’s a life of sacrifice. It’s not about convenience it’s about conviction. We don’t seek good times we seek God’s glory.
Romans 8:18 (ESV Strong’s)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Money is what we all strive for all of our lives, money so we can buy all the things we want. But in the end, money and possessions cannot buy happiness, you can just be miserable in comfort. Ultimately, it’s is just not important at all in life and especially in eternity. Solomon observed this…
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV Strong’s)
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
The world tells us, markets to us, that money and what it buys are important in life. Saw the dumbest bumper sticker ever… He who dies with the most toys wins. Utter rubbish, but most people live by it!
We strive all our life for bigger houses, cars, TVs, dining tables and computers. Do you think any of that matters one iota the second you die?
Heard of a rich man who was dying and asked his butler to pack a suitcase of gold bars. Miraculously as his spirit departed he grabbed the bag, and arrived in heaven with his precious bag. St Peter said, what’s in the bag, and he proudly opened it and displayed the contents. Peter asked, why did you bring a suitcase of road base? Jesus said,
Luke 12:15 (ESV Strong’s)
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Jesus told the rich young ruler, who asked how to be saved, the following…
Mark 10:21-22 (ESV Strong’s)
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus wasn’t saying we can’t have money or nice things. But this young man didn’t have riches, riches had him. If possessions possess you, then God can’t. And shrouds DON’T have pockets, so in the end, on the day you die, in the light of eternity, all your possessions and riches simply don’t matter!
3. REPUTATION AND POSITION
2 kids watched a funeral procession go by. One asked, who’s funeral, and the other replied, the local millionaire. Wow, said the first boy, how much money did he leave, and the second replied, all of it.
Position, reputation, like riches, they seem important but in the long run, in reality, they are worthless! They’re not really important in life. Many whom the world celebrates and champions right now will find their celebrity, fame, power and prestige worthless when they stand before God to be judged. Jesus said
Mark 10:42-43 (ESV Strong’s)
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
In eternity, servanthood matters, humility matters but position and reputation matters not at all.
4. REGRETS AND PLANS
Proverbs 19:21 (ESV Strong’s)
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
We make our plans, our great dreams of doing something awesome, and most people step into eternity with plans either unfulfilled, or completely messed up by things we did do?
In eternity our plans mean nothing. If you’re too busy, too absorbed in something to serve the Lord, standing before Jesus one day saying, “Well Lord, I intended to ask You into my life. I intended to serve You.” Means nothing.
Guilt and regret consume some of us right now, both for things we have done, and the things we knew we should have done but haven’t. We’ve all done things we regret, but we need to remember that when we confess our sins He forgives us. Don’t let regret rob you of what’s important. I don’t want to face the judgement seat of Christ with regrets, knowing I squandered what God asked me to do, or I was so paralysed by guilt and shame I did nothing.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV Strong’s)
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
Don’t let guilt and regret tie you up and convince you they are really important in the long run.
5. RELIGION AND LEGALISM
Time for a bit of controversy, but this one affects many people in churches, even ours… Legalism! I read Galatians this week, and Paul pulls no punches.
Galatians 5:7-9 (ESV Strong’s)
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
And it does…legalism is man’s rules instead of relationship, and it spreads like cancer in the church. But in the end, religion can’t save you, it only enslaves you. Only Jesus can save you!
Legalism is when people afflict upon you man made rules, usually in a pseudo spiritual guise. They will tell you God demands this or that, but beware because these are usually not true Biblical principles but that person’s preferences. In Paul’s day the legalistic debate was about circumcision, but today it could be any number of legalistic, religious rules.
Max Lucado describes legalism as Jesus +. Jesus + evangelism, Jesus + giving, Jesus + rituals, Jesus + anything!
2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV Strong’s)
charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
Jesus describes the legalism of the religious leaders of His day as
Matthew 23:4 (ESV Strong’s)
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matthew 23:24 (ESV Strong’s)
You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
Legalism sucks the life and the joy out of people, but ultimately it too will be worth nothing in eternity. You cannot get the heaven by following a set of rules, you need a relationship with Jesus, plus nothing!
WHAT LASTS FOREVER?
So these things aren’t really important in life, but let me summarise what really is important eternity. 3 things,
Psalms 90:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
God is eternal, never starts, never ends.
2. GOD’S WORD
Isaiah 40:8 (ESV Strong’s)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
God says His Word is Eternal… It stands forever, long after fashions, opinions, philosophy, and worldly wisdom fades, it still stands. That’s why I want you to join us as we read the Bible reading plan, because God’s Word never fails!
Isaiah 55:11 (ESV Strong’s)
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
I have chose to build my life upon the Word of God, not money, not fame, not success or prestige or your opinion of religious things we must or must not do, just God’s Word.
3. THE SOULS OF MEN AND WOMEN
The souls of men and women live forever. Either in heaven or hell, but they exist forever. Therefore anything we can do that invests into people for eternity is valuable.
Relationships are valuable. I hate seeing people fight over things that aren’t important and compromising relationships that are. How dare we doggedly pursue our opinions of things and drive people away from God! Is our opinions, our interpretation, our comfort, our desires worth more than a soul lost to an eternity in hell?
And church is a classic battleground. How many have been hurt or offended by people in church and left church to wander sometimes for years away from God? Church, we need to get serious about this, because harsh rules and judgement won’t win people to Christ, but love and holiness will.
Romans 14:13 (ESV Strong’s)
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
The soul is so important, because it’s eternal. Either in heaven or hell. All the money, prestige, fame, success, comfort or legalism in the world amounts to nothing if we lose our soul!
Matthew 16:26 (ESV Strong’s)
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN ETERNITY?
Jesus told a parable that sums this all up…
Luke 12:16-21 (ESV Strong’s).
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Only one life, t’will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Are you willing to lay aside whatever is holding you back from true greatness in God? What is it you need to let go of? What is it you currently concentrate on that seems important, but that on the day you die you’ll realise it was never that important at all?
2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV Strong’s)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.