REPOST Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 5, 2014; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Looking at Life from the Standpoint of Eternity”
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (ESV)
So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
One of the frustrations in life is coming to the realization that no matter how carefully we plan for the future, there are always things that are out of our control: Illness, accidents, and other tragedies befall everyone independent of education, social status, or financial means.
The prudent individual realizes that statistically, at least, the chances of a better life come to those who follow the advice of Oprah and Dr. Phil. So we try to manage our money, make good use of our time, and try to maintain a positive attitude. However, in the end, the lives of both the wise and the foolish, rich and poor, strong and the weak are all equalized by the same unavoidable fate: namely death.
Alexander the Great learned this lesson in a dramatic way from the famous philosopher, Diogenes. One day, Alexander found his friend standing alone in a field, looking carefully through a pile of bones. When Alexander asked what he was doing, Diogenes replied: “I am searching for the bones of your father Philip, but I cannot seem to distinguish them from the bones of the slaves.”
When you look at life from this perspective, it is not hard to come to the same conclusion as Solomon: to hate the very idea of life itself. What is the point of accumulating knowledge, wealth, and fame if everything will be negated by death and all will be forgotten? The famous existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre expressed his despair by stating, “Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.”
For the Christian, eternity is neither an illusion nor just a future hope, but it is a daily reality to cling to. We know that if life is just what is under the sun, then it is something to hate. But if life is eternal and our good deeds remembered for all of time, it makes every decision and every act of kindness significant. The resurrection of Christ is our reminder that death is not the great equalizer but merely the door into true life. This makes our existence not something merely to be endured but to be cherished and used for its fullest potential.
Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to overlook how important the concept of eternity is for our emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. Help us to live everyday with an eternal perspective because if we don’t, we will despair of life itself. We pray that the resurrection of Christ would be the power behind our daily living. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Esther 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 18:13-21: Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Questions to Consider
- What is the danger of covetousness?
- How should the man have responded to his land producing so plentifully?
- Why is it foolish to live a hedonistic life?
- The real danger of covetousness is that it is the same sin as idolatry. We covet the idols we have made in our lives, whether that be money, power, comfort, relationships, etc. In fact, the preliminary step in committing any sin is coveting something in your heart. For example, adultery is preceded by coveting another man’s wife; stealing begins with the coveting of another man’s property. This is why Jesus tells us to be on guard against all covetousness.
- The man should have seen his riches as a blessing from God and used it to serve others. God calls us to be good stewards of our material riches and using it solely for our own pleasure is a poor investment in the Kingdom.
- It is foolishness to live only for personal pleasure because you don’t know when your life will end, and God will call you to give an account. Everyone will ultimately be judged by their generosity towards God.
Take some time to think about the brevity of life. How will you invest your money, talents, and other resources in the window of time that you have been given? Pray that God would give you the wisdom to make the most of every opportunity.