Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We use phrases like "you only live once" and "you only get one life" to remind us to live life for all it's worth, to take that once in a lifetime trip, and to seize the day. The truth is we never know if we'll have tomorrow. But what if we stopped thinking "you only get one life" and shifted our thinking to "you only get one eternity"? What if we focused less on squeezing every last bit of enjoyment out of this life and focused more on squeezing every bit of enjoyment we can into eternity?
I'm not saying it's wrong to be able to mark several big items off your bucket list. It's not that any of these things are wrong in and of themselves. What I am asking is "Is there a better more eternity focused way to spend our time and money?" The people I most look up to aren't the best travelled or most cultured. The people I really want to be like are men like George Muller. He poured all of his energy, time, and money into orphanages which helped raise more than 10,000 orphans in his lifetime and schools which helped educate over 120,000 children.* Muller simply trusted God to provide the money for these ventures. He never once asked anyone for a donation. He opted instead to leave room for the Holy Spirit to inspire people to give.
I look up to the men and women who surrendered to a call to the mission field when that meant a life sentence. I don't know if you know this, but there was a time in history when missionaries leaving for the field would literally pack all of their belongings in a pine casket and board a ship to their final destination. They recognized that they were moving there for the remainder of their lives, which were often far too short due to disease or hostile locals. Sometimes these missionaries even wrote last letters to their relatives before they left. (To learn more about this and to read some samples of these letters and some modern day versions go to thelastletter.org/wall.)
As I think about these people I wonder... if I ever do save up enough money to take that once in a lifetime trip- what's really the wisest use of that money and time? Should I say to myself, "I only live once so let's take this big trip and tick this item off my bucket list? Let's enjoy life while we have it?" Or does it make more sense to say, "I can build an orphanage in Ghana for the same amount of money and help provide care for children who need to hear the good news about Jesus. I could enjoy the rewards for the way I spend this money for all of eternity!"?
It's really hard to do, but I want God to continue working in my life to make me the latter type of person. I'm not saying that I will never do anything nice for my family, but I would rather spend my time and energy storing up treasure for eternity.
Perhaps David says what I am trying to get at best in Psalm 17:13-14 when he describes the wicked in part as "those of this world whose reward is in this life." May the Lord remind us all this week that our reward is not in this life like the wicked. We do not live to make the most of this life. Rather we live this life to the uttermost in order to make the most of eternity.
For further reading...
- Luke 12:13-21- What Jesus has to say about storing up things for yourself if you are not rich toward God.
- Luke 3:7-14- John the Baptist's definition of "fruit that is in keeping with repentance."
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-15- Paul's advice for giving.
* This info is widely supported but the Wikipedia entry on George Muller is the most concise way to come about it.