What have you done with your life? Regardless of how old you are, when you look back thus far, do you see a pattern of good–of tangible achievements and obedience to God–or is there nothing you can identify and say, “This is how I spent my time, what I’ve done here”? As human beings we tend to want to point to some grandiose accomplishment acknowledged by many, and while recognition by others is not necessarily wrong, it is more important that we have lived in obedience to Christ.
“In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, which he promised to his people. You are serving the Lord Christ. But remember that anyone who does wrong will be punished for that wrong, and the Lord treats everyone the same.” (Colossians 3:23-25 NCV)
God created human beings in His image. And while our holiness–apart from the holiness of Christ attributed to us by faith–was lost at the Fall when the first couple disobeyed God and ushered sin into the world, remnants of other aspects of God’s image, such as creativity and productivity, remain. We have an innate desire to create something of value, to produce something worthwhile during our lifetime. But unless we are consciously examining how we spend our time, we may arrive at the end of lives not really having accomplished anything of significance. Yet what is significant?
Many people avoid reading the final book in the Bible, Revelations, because there is much in it that is still difficult for those of us in this point of human history to understand–yet we shouldn’t avoid it, because God has also revealed much for our good in it. Take this particular passage:
“…They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” (Revelation 4:10-11 NIV)
This is referring to the twenty-four elders, who lay down their crowns before the throne of God. What, or who, are elders? These are clearly those who have achieved great accomplishment in God’s eyes in some, or many, ways. And what is a crown? Our generation tends to think of tiaras and beauty pageants when we hear the word “crown,” but when this was written a crown was a symbol of authority, wealth, and achievement. Rulers and potentates had crowns. And these worthy individuals who have rightly earned crowns subsequently lay them at their Lord’s feet. What does this mean?
Apart from its prophetic implications, I believe this passage reveals significant truth about human accomplishment. First, we will want to have a crown–something of value–to give to Christ. And, we will place it before Him because anything of true value that we succeed in accomplishing during our lifetime is only something He allowed and enabled us to do in the first place–and all glory from it belongs to Him! Secondly, will He consider significant what I consider significant? Or, will my “crowns” crumble to dust before His throne leaving me with nothing to give back to Him?
The solution to this dilemma is two-fold. We will need to periodically evaluate our lives to confirm that they are, indeed, on track–that we are engaged in worthwhile endeavors which are, in fact, accomplishing something with the time, talents, and resources God has placed us in charge of. And, we need to confirm that the activities we are engaged in are done in Christ–in obedience to Him and aligned with His Word–rather than simply that which we, personally, desire. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy being gainfully useful within God’s kingdom–to the contrary, when we are utilizing His gifts fully we may feel most fulfilled. Rather, we must prayerfully make certain that we are acting in obedience to Jesus.
So, what have you done with your life? More to the point, what are you doing with your life? Are you able to see an increasingly tangible pattern of accomplishment in obedience to God as the years progress? Or have you been unfaithful in managing the resources He has placed under your control? If you cannot identify a pattern of obedience, it is not too late. Turn around, ask God to forgive you, and prayerfully seek His will for the remainder of your life!
Help me do everything for You, remembering that I will receive my reward from You which You promised to Your people. Help me be found faithful, and have a crown to place at Your feet one day! Amen.