What do you imagine your ‘last words’ might be if it turns out that folks can gather in & listen to you? Here are a few last words from recognizable people:
“I’m bored with it all.” (Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.) ~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965
“How were the circus receipts in Madison Square Gardens?” ~~ P. T. Barnum, Circus Promoter, d. 1891
“All my possessions for a moment of time.” ~~ Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) ~~ Jesus Christ
Malcolm Forbes life emphasized the Epicurean philosophy, “Eat, drink, and be merry – for tomorrow we may die.” He was famous for denying himself nothing that money could buy. Malcolm threw himself a birthday party for his eightieth birthday that cost $1,000,000. He flew two or three hundred of his closest friends to Tangier in a chartered 747. He knew, and was known by, every important person in the world of politics and finance. He built one of the world’s great fortunes as one of its foremost publishers. It seems that Mr. Forbes philosophy of life would be that we should strive to see, taste, hear, experience, or possess as much of the world’s various valued faire as possible before the time to depart it comes.
Actually the bible king named Solomon was richer than Malcolm Forbes. Solomon once said,
“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained clear-eyed so that I could evaluate all these things. Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, an additional reward for all my labors.” Ecclesiastes 2:4-11
You may come to the end of your life’s journey with a large amount of wealth or you may be honored by your peers for your accomplishments. But what do you suppose it might all mean to you as you face death? Do you suppose that you might hold a stock portfolio to your chest and gain comfort by looking at the number of shares on the certificate? The house that you own, the backyard renovation, the new carpet or the car…none of which you’ll ever see again… how much will they mean then? Probably not much at all.
As you slip across the threshold into the arms of God, they’ll mean even less…actually nothing at all unless they were used for kingdom purposes.
The Apostle Paul had it all, the social status, the recognition, the power even to throw his enemies into jail. He was respected by the existing religious authorities of his day, he was an ‘up and comer’, “of the stock of Israel, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee.” He said all of those status symbols, the power, prestige, position type things, became “rubbish” to him when he met Jesus Christ.
What in the world would make him change his mind about things like that? Why would he give up the power and access to affluence? Paul believed that there are things that are even more important than power, position and prestige. He believed hook, line and sinker in eternal things. He knew that, “You CANNOT serve both God and money.”
How about you and me? We know what we admire most by looking at what we’re striving for or who we are trying to be most like. When Saul of Tarsus met Jesus Christ, he either gradually or immediately, stopped pursuing the status and values of this world. He, either slowly or immediately, began to pursue only those things that would promote and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To him life became, “forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”
You and I have only so many assets to invest. Our assets are the amount of time we have left, the money that we control, the relationships we have, and the package of gifts and talents that God has given us. Combined these equal our opportunity to promote and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the life He has called us to lead. Investing our assets to promote and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to earn the rewards provided by our Father in Heaven for the faithful and obedient use of the opportunity He gives us, is the only real reason we are still here on earth. God, by His sovereign choice, has chosen to use flawed and foolish people like you and me to work through and to demonstrate and announce His Kingdom. He does the work, but through us.
Paul of Tarsus and others, through the testimony of their lives, give us examples of wise men who made wise investments that last for eternity and bring eternal rewards. How about you? Have you invested well on earth so that your dying words will reflect the world view of your leader Jesus Christ?