How long are you going to live? When you got up this morning, did it occur to you that there is absolutely no guarantee that this isn’t the last day of your life, or the life of someone you love? And even though most of us will not die today, the grim reality is that someday we will, and we really do not know when.
“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25, 26)
Death is one of those strange topics no one ever wants to talk about. It’s considered impolite because it makes us uncomfortable contemplating our own mortality, and the only acceptable time to talk about it seems to be at funerals and wakes–and even then only superficially, using socially prescribed euphemisms. Yet it is unavoidable for each and every one of us, and the really frightening thing is that we have no idea when it will come.
About a half year ago we rented a second floor apartment to a nice young woman who was very neat and clean and always paid her rent on time. She is now being held on bond because she was the driver of a vehicle involved in a rollover accident in which her fiancé–a man we had just seen alive and well several days earlier–was killed. And tragic as her situation is, it fleshes out the reality of the suddenness and unexpectedness of death. It is also why we should never be afraid to speak of either death or the importance of getting right with God, now.
While He lived on earth, Jesus used everyday situations people were familiar with to teach spiritual truths. In today’s verses He compares the accountability human beings have to God with a man being dragged off to court before a judge, and urges that we make peace before getting there, because at that point we will be held accountable for the full penalty of our transgressions–an eternity of punishment. What a horrific prospect!
Many people delay addressing their guilt before God thinking that they’ll deal with it when they get there. But while we might be able to handle certain situations in this life like that, we cannot address our eternal destiny in the same way because of one important reason–our eternal destinies are sealed at death. Hebrews 9:27 clearly tells us, “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” There is no purgatory, no waiting until we get there to figure out what we will do, no bargaining with God, no changing the answers. It’s like taking a test–we hand in our paper at the moment of death and can’t change the answers we wrote down. But why is this? Why won’t God give us a chance to change our minds–to try to still get into heaven, once we find out it’s real?
The reason God won’t let us change our minds once we get there is because He’s giving us a chance to change our minds now. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath.” (Romans 2:4, 5, 7, 8)
The truth of the matter is that there is more than enough evidence for a reasonable person to believe if they are even half-way inclined to do so. It is equally true that the reason most people don’t become Christians is simply because they don’t want to. Becoming a Christian involves repentance–a turning away from our sins to faith in and obedience to Christ; in other words, it involves sacrifice. It really isn’t as easy as accepting a tract–that’s why Jesus told us to count the cost of discipleship before embarking on it:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:28-33)
God takes seriously our rejection of the forgiveness He has provided through Christ:
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 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 a common thing, 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)
So, do you know how long you’ll live–when your last day of life will be? Do you feel confident ignoring God and being oblivious to the eternity of judgment waiting for you if you do not repent and follow Christ? You shouldn’t:
“And He [Jesus] said to them, Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man’s life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs. Then He told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man was fertile and yielded plentifully. And he considered and debated within himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place [in which] to gather together my harvest.’ And he said, I will do this: I will pull down my storehouses and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain or produce and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily. But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? [Job 27:8; Jer. 17:11.] So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares].” (Luke 12:15-21 AMP)
Help me be rich in my relation to You. Help me agree with the adversary quickly now, while I am still on the way, while I can still change the answers. Amen.