If you were dying today, what would you want your children to know—what is so important that of all the things in lif, if they fail in this, nothing else would really matter? For myself, the thing I most want to pass on to my family is the necessity of right priorities.
“Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” (Ephesians 2:5)
While there are many worthwhile activities that we can engage in life, because we must all die and give an account to the One who created us and gave us the opportunities we have had, the most important thing we must do is to get our relationship with Him right. Apart from that all of the success and pleasure this world has to offer is utterly without value.
Today I left my elderly mother in her hospital room fighting for her life. It isn’t that death would be unexpected for either her or us because she has been progressively declining over the past four years; it is that watching someone take the path that will end in the cessation of existence among us somehow better impresses the temporary nature of our lives and provides a new perspective on the value of the time we are given.
What God has given us through Christ is without equal in value. It is not only our access to forgiveness and eternity with the One we truly belong with, it is also a relationship—a genuine friendship—with our Creator, our Savior, our Sustainer in this life. Yet instead of being preoccupied with getting this right, so many of us exhibit utter foolishness as we spend our lives ignoring and running away from Him.
The Bible explains it like this:
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober [realize this is important business, get yourself together!], and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ [Jesus completed the act of redemption on the cross, but it will be consummated—fully enacted—at the end of time] as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance [don’t keep doing the sins you did before you knew better!]; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality [who is completely fair] judges according to each one’s work [salvation is a gift, but obedience is evidence of believing in Him—if we belong to Him, we will live lives of righteousness], conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers [many of the learned behaviors passed down to us are not godly], but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world [God planned our salvation from the beginning], but was manifest [revealed to us] in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (I Peter 1:13-21)
Jesus taught us to take God very seriously. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Matthew 10:28) God has the power to judge us to an eternity of misery; He is the One we must fear displeasing.
The book of Hebrews also tells us to be serious about the things of God. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it…those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, 6b) The words “obedience” and “faith” are used interchangeably because those who have faith obey what God commands.
Continuing to sin after we know better—ignoring God—is the most dangerous of behaviors. “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins [our only hope of forgiveness!], but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries [those who rebel against God, against right]. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses [this refers to the Old Testament system of punishment]. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified [His death on the cross for us] a common thing [without value], and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people.’It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31) The reason it is so dangerous to put off obeying once God allows us to understand our duty before Him is because we truly do not know when our time of grace, our life, will end.
So we are encouraged to obey the warnings God graciously gives us. “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth [a reference to the Old Testament], much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth [at Sinai when He gave the Commandments to Israel]; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven [the future end time].’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made [physical creation], that the things which cannot be shaken [that which survives judgment—the spiritual—our obedience to God] may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken [destroyed], let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)
Our lives here really are but a fleeting moment. Certainly, when we are young time sometimes drags and it seems that we will live forever, but as we get older we come to understand that sooner or later, death comes to all, and that of all certainties of life, it is the most sure. Whether earlier through illness or accident, or later through the natural decay of our physical bodies and their eventual cessation, the time of accounting approaches for each of us. It is possible to avoid thinking about it, to put on another video game, get on Facebook, or go to the mall. But becaise WE SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW OUR MOMENT OF DEATH, it is imperative to take care of the issue NOW. That is why He urges us, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”(Hebrews 3:7-8a)
It isn’t hard to give in to God. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…For My yoke is easy and My burden in light.” Struggling against God is like fighting the windmills—impossible, and utterly futile—but finally understanding, trusting in Jesus, and doing things His way brings relief because He blesses our faith and submission to Him.
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Thank You that even when I was dead in my trespasses and sins, You made me alive together with Christ; that it is through grace, through Your undeserved favor, that I am saved. I submit myself to You and thank You for the forgiveness and acceptance I have in Jesus. Help me to turn away from my sins and follow You. Amen.