I once knew a senior citizen who said he lived to have a clean car. Sure enough, he was up every morning and out the door to wash and wax it until it gleamed. That car would sparkle even on cloudy days. How silly, we say. Yet if there was anything positive about it, we could say it gave a senior motivation to get moving every day. But surely we can think of something greater than the vanity of a nice-looking car. Nothing injects life with more energy than when we have a purpose that is bigger than we are; an overall reason to live; a great goal that defines what we are trying to do in our all-too-short lives.
When we look into the New Testament we see the early church engaged in expansion, pushing the borders of the Kingdom into new places, smashing right through racial barriers, and dreaming to get into new areas. They endured prejudice, persecution, exhaustion, and stress. What drove them to take the gospel into the whole inhabited world in one generation (Col.1:23)?
The answer lies in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. They realized that God Himself was behind this new enterprise of faith. Jesus gave his earliest followers their marching orders, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk.16:15-16). Obeying this purpose produced the greatest strides in evangelism that the world has ever seen.
How about us today? Is our purpose simply to make as much money as possible? Should your ultimate future achievement be ownership of a great big house in a nice neighbourhood? Is your goal just to travel and enjoy warm weather somewhere? If we’re just trying to please ourselves, we’re not much different than that man who had to do the daily car wash. When we live for great things Jesus gave us, life gains a driving force that moves us to take on exciting challenges and satisfying works for others.
Are you serving the Master, or just washing the car?
– Tim Johnson
A photographer decided to travel the world and find the oldest living people, recording their wisdom in a book. He interviewed about 50 “supercentenarians,” people 110 years old or more. While he certainly found some wise people – such as a 110-year old Tibetan who earned a university degree at 106, has all his teeth, and has never seen a doctor in his life – many others have been a disappointment.
One would think that the extremely old would have learned some profound things, but great age does not guarantee great wisdom. Genesis 4-5 briefly records the lives of the world’s longest living people, few of which were wise or godly. By Noah’s day, when men still lived at least 300 years, man was so selfish and untrustworthy God said, “I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen. 6:7)
I’ve met many people who’ve lived longer than most, but they made such a mess of their lives they ended up miserable, vengeful, and alone. But it’s a treat to know elderly Christians who’ve spent their days serving Jesus, and then ended their lives with sweet attitudes. What makes some people very wise and happy, yet others become foolish and pitiful?
To put it simply, the godliest people among us have literally given their lives away. They decided early in life to obey the gospel of Christ and spent decades serving Him. They have a sense that their lives could end at any time, and they want to serve as best they can for as long as they have. Didn’t James tell us this in Jas. 4:14? Instead of striving for the longest life possible, which can be rather selfish, it’s better to make the best of the time we do have.
Setting healthy goals is a wise strategy for life. What excellent and noble goals do you have to make this year the best possible? Why not decide to encourage people; be more thankful; urge people to consider Jesus Christ; tell the elders they’re doing a good job; be a giver, even if you don’t have much; pray daily for the church; maybe even prepare for leadership?
You don’t have to be extremely old to be wise. God can help you start right now.
– Tim Johnson