This morning I conducted a memorial service and one of the friends of the family mentioned that she enjoyed my articles in Joy! Magazine. Her husband kindly added that he had been blessed by the sermon, and these two comments inspired me to produce this short article.
Psalm 90 verse 12 reads; ‘teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ How many days do we have left on this planet? None of us know and often our lives here terminate suddenly and unexpectedly, so it is important that we make the best use of the days we have on Earth. Yet often we spend our time, energy, and passion on things that have little or no eternal significance. Some people dwell on past triumphs, disappointments, hurts, and achievements, but the past is gone and cannot be relived. Other folks worry a lot about future finances, politics, or their children’s prospects, yet we cannot control the future no matter how much we worry or plan.
This is why Jesus said; “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).
Of course the Lord Jesus had in mind only our tomorrows on this planet when He told us not to worry, for He taught comprehensively at other times that we should be very mindful of our eternal ‘tomorrows’. Paul picked up on this when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that ‘if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.’ The Christian life begins here and now but it endures for eternity. So, we should not be worrying about our earthly tomorrow, but we should be giving serious consideration to our eternal tomorrow. What should be the focus of our lives today are the things that survive death and endure forever.
When my wife and I visited Hong Kong many years ago we were intrigued to see family groups at the shrines burning paper models of houses, cars and mock dollar bills. When we inquired about this we were told that they believed that by doing this their recently departed loved one would receive these material things in the afterlife. We smile indulgently when we encounter this sort of thinking yet so many of us do something equally irrational.
We burn up our precious time, energy, and talent to leave behind a legacy when we die.
Some people actually bring on their own early demise my burning themselves out in producing a business, a book, a work of art, or a large cash deposit. Somehow they believe that they can live on through their legacy. But we don’t continue to exist in this way; we live on literally, not just figuratively, for we are eternal beings. And we cannot take our legacies with us for the only things that survive physical death are relationships, formed and forged in the fire of today but enduring forever.
By far the most important relationship we can have is with the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the life purpose of every man and woman on this planet is to come to know Jesus, to become like Him, and to help others to do likewise. We come to know Him, and we become like Him in this lifetime; today. We help others to know Him and become like Him, today. Relationship with Jesus is today’s highest priority. Second in importance are our relationships with one another. The logic of the Christian relationship priority is simple: If I know Jesus Christ as saviour and lord then I will live with Him forever; and if you have the same sort of relationship with Jesus, then our relationship with each other will also endure eternally in Christ Jesus.
Life is so frenetic and pressured that many people seldom consider eternal things unless confronted by something like the death of a loved one. So I would like to invite you not to wait for that eventuality but to take this opportunity, today, to consider your eternal relationships. How rich and strong is your relationship with Jesus? What is the quality of your other relationships; are they fractured or whole, loving or distant? And please remember that these are the only things that matter in eternity – your relationship with the Lord Jesus and your relationship with others.
So, David’s words are very wise and we would do well to echo his prayer;
“Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.”